Context Launces New Walk in "Made in Florence" Series

by Ed Forteau /
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Oct 20, 2009 / 0 comments

Context Launces New Walk in "Made in Florence" Series

New walking seminar in Duomo area explores centuries-old artisan workshops and traditional creative spirit in the face of mass tourism.

Florence, October 14, 2009 – Context, organizer of critically-acclaimed walking tours in the cultural capitals of Europe and the U.S., unveils a new component of its “Made in Florence” program, centered on the traditions of local craftsmanship in Florence, Italy. “Saper Fare: Artisan Traditions of Florence” explores family-run artisan workshops in the maze of medieval streets surrounding the Duomo. The walk, in the company of an urban crafts historian, not only highlights the technical skill and know-how (saper fare) of these artisans but also underlines their symbolic presence as bastions of traditional craftsmanship in a historic center otherwise dedicated to modern tourism.

“I was amazed when I first followed our docents on this walk,”
says Megan McDonnell, Context’s city manager for Florence. “This is a part of the city more associated with mass-produced trinkets than masterworks crafted in Florence. And yet, in three hours, we visited scores of workshops, hidden away in the side streets, where craftsmen are still making paper, jewelry, leather, and other objects for which Florence has been traditionally known.”

The walk, which launches this fall, begins in Piazza della Repubblica, a square central to the history of commerce in Florence, and visits three workshops, including a textile maker who has traditionally supplied the royalty of Europe and top fashion houses; a jewelry boutique that combines traditional techniques dating back to the Etruscans with modern technology; and a studio dedicated to inlaid stone, one of the finest arts of the city. Along the way, participants gain a deep understanding of Florentine craftsmanship and its integral role in the city’s history.

Saper Fare is the second in a series of walking seminars Context organizes in Florence that focus on traditional crafts. A counterpoint to our widely-acclaimed Oltrarno Artisans walk, it rounds out the Made in Florence program and establishes Context as the definitive walking tour company for going beyond the main tourist sites in Florence and embracing the full history and cultural character of the city.

As with all of Context’s Florence programs, Saper Fare will be led by experts in social history, local crafts, and Florentine culture. Groups are limited to six people and run weekly on Thursday mornings at 9:30 am (€65 per person). Private groups can be scheduled on request (€330 flat fee). Both walks in the Made in Florence program raise funds for Context’s local sustainable tourism project, a co-op scholarship program at a local trade school that brings students into workshops to serve as apprentices. Context’s sustainable tourism program recently won an “Urban Adventures” prize in National Geographic’s Geotourism Challenge 2009.

Founded by National Geographic writer Paul Bennett and graphic designer Lani Bevacqua, Context is a network of English-speaking scholars and professionals – including art historians, writers, architects and gastronomes – who organize and lead didactic walking seminars in several world cities, including: Florence, Rome, Venice, Naples, Paris, London, New York, Istanbul, and Philadelphia. Travel + Leisure has named Context one of the top European tour companies for its innovative approach to travel and the depth of its programs.

To learn more about Context, please see: