One of the highlights of my trip to Florence was by far the Scuola del Cuoio leather school set within the Monastery of Santa Croce. I spent a good hour watching the students learning the craftsmanship of handbag making through the school's open workshops. It was a big relief after seeing the same generic bags at every market throughout the city...
The school was founded after World War II to give orphans of the war a means to learn a practical trade so they could earn a living, and by the 1950's went on to also offer courses to inmates Florence's Murate prison and in juvenile detention centres.
Today the school offers a whole range of course from half day workshops where you can create a leather book cover (€87 - €190 depending on group size), to six month courses where you will learn a full host of leather craftsmanship skills along with Italian language and culture.
I couldn't resist buying some of the gorgeous leather bangles available in every colour you could imagine for €8 each. I have tiny wrists and always struggle to buy bangles so I was very pleased that they fit and bought three (see photo below). I also loved some of the bags for sale, especially the big carryall in tan and clutches in unique colours and leathers. If I ever return to Florence I would be sure to enrol in one of their courses!
For full course details visit the Scuola del Cuoio website here