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Visit and Souvenir Shop Scuola del Cuoio, Florence’s Leather School

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 buildings florence leather store

The main courtyard and some of the ancient buildings making up the Scuola del Cuoio, housed in a former monastery.

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.

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.

Scuola del Cuoio shop leather florence

The main room of the shop at Scuola del Cuoio. Smaller less expensive items like bookmarks and change purses fill the baskets.

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.

If I were to choose a bag here, it would be something like one of these smaller, classic bags.

Many bags incorporated elaborate designs.

Small leather change purses

These adorable change purses were only 8 euros.

I loved the classic Florentine design on this change purse– a great gift item.

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.

Snakeskin bracelets in pretty colors at 16 euros. florence

Snakeskin bracelets in pretty colors at 16 euros.

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).

calfskin bracelet florence leather shop school

Calfskin bracelets at 13 euros.

Braided calfskin bracelets

 

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?

One Response to Visit and Souvenir Shop Scuola del Cuoio, Florence’s Leather School

  1. Shepard C Willner 08/12/2017 at 8:39 pm #

    I haven’t been to Scuola del Cuoio in Florence, but on my one trip to that city in 2000 as part of an all-day cruise shore excursion, I did buy a purse for my Mom at a shop on a street near San Croce church. As a guy, I didn’t know that much about purses or handbags, so I asked somebody from the tour to model it for me. I liked how it looked on the model even if she was taller than Mom, and I decided to buy.

    Seventeen years later, Mom still has that purse and carries it when she has the right color clothing and shoes to go with it. Two crucial lessons are in this posting: 1. When guys who don’t know anything about women’s accessories such as how they go together with women’s clothing or shoes, we should ask women who do know about fashion essentials to help us out, because some of us guys don’t care about those things. 2. Because I bought the purse using Italian Lira in 2000, that was the currency used back then before Italy and the rest of the EU changed over to Euros (except for the Scandinavian countries and the UK).

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