The first time I visited Florence’s San Croce neighborhood, I must have walked right past the entrance to Scuola del Cuoio, a leather school in the heart of Florence. Though located on a sizable campus with several buildings and courtyards, the leather school was far less conspicuous from the street. It wasn’t until I was admiring a friend’s souvenir snakeskin bracelet back in New York that I learned of the existence of the school. As she described the enormous leather collections, the low prices and the gorgeous ancient buildings housing the school I made a mental note to add it to my next Florence itinerary.
(For more on Florence’s top 17 souvenirs, check out this post).
Scuola del Cuoio has an interesting history. The school was started by two Florentine leather artisan families after World War II. Their mission was philanthropic, to provide war orphans with a trade and a way to earn a living. The school still trains leather artisans today. As you walk through the campus you’ll see classrooms filled with apprentices hard at work and heaping scraps of leather everywhere. Tourists can even take a leather mini course.
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Scuola del Cuoio– a Traditional Leather School in the Heart of Florence
But the main attraction of Scuola del Cuoio is the gorgeous shop onsite, with its vaulted ceilings and dramatic chandeliers. There are so many leather items to choose from– small and inexpensive accessories to elaborate handbags. It’s a great place to buy small leather souvenirs in bulk (or that one unique gift for yourself to bring home). Another great way to make your leather souvenir extra special is to have one of the artisans monogram it by hand (using traditional tools) right in front of you.
What to Buy at Scuola del Cuoio
I can’t even begin to mention all the different types of leather souvenirs available at Scuola del Cuoio, but here are a few of the more interesting ones.
Leather Handbags at Scuola del Cuoio
The shop at Scuola del Cuoio is best known for its leather handbags. The handbags are made from all sort of leather– from cow leather to ostrich, snakeskin and alligator. The handbags here are often elaborate, beautifully made, and lean towards expensive (500 euros and up). They are kept locked behind glass but just ask a staffer for help for a closer look. While I could appreciate the craftsmanship that went into the bags, many of them were not to my particular taste. If you have your heart set on buying a leather bag souvenir when in Florence, I recommend checking out the styles online first and getting a closer look when you visit the shop.
Small leather change purses
These adorable change purses were only 8 euros.
Snakeskin (Python) Bracelets
These colorful snakeskin bracelets were a total bargain at only 16 euros. I was hoping to buy a few for myself but they only come in one size and I have extra tiny wrists so they were a little too big for me. They would be a perfect gift for anyone with an average to larger wrist though.
Leather Wrap bracelets
I buy leather bracelets all the time and layer them, mixing them with other leather strap bracelets as well as silver or gold bracelets. You’ll find many colorful souvenir options here, most are adjustable to fit any wrist size (and some are great for men too).
Leather Wristlet Purses
At only 11 euros, these are a great bargain and can be used as a small purse or to hold accessories for traveling.
Men’s Leather Belts
Men’s belts were nicely made and inexpensive– 16-30 euros for simple styles, more for other materials.
Leather Desk Accesories
I loved this snap leather tray. It’s great for travel as it lays flat in your bag, but is the perfect thing to put on your hotel nightstand or desk so you don’t lose small items. At home, give this tray a permanent spot on your desk. These trays were a little more expensive 53 euros, but were beautifully made and embossed (have it monogrammed on site). Leather tray, 53 euros.
Have you been to Scuola del Cuoio? Where is your favorite place to buy leather in Florence?