Tuscany has a very important and historic artisan economy, having produced high quality handicrafts for centuries. Made in Tuscany porcelain, ceramics, glass and crystal are world famous. Today, you can trace their history by visiting the artisan museums mentioned in this article.
The origins of the arts of ceramic in Montelupo date back to the Medieval era. Opened in 1983 and then moved to its actual location in 2008, the Ceramics Museum of Montelupo cherishes artifacts celebrating such long tradition and also features pieces from the area’s most renowned companies, schools and associations, all of which continue to produce ceramics according to time-tested ancient methods.
Museo della Ceramica di Montelupo
Where: Piazza Vittorio Veneto 10/11 - Montelupo Fiorentino
Did you know that the Empoli area is the second glass producer in all of Europe? The history between the town and glass handicraft also goes far back in time, glass was used to store and distribute the salt from Volterra’s salt mines.
Housed in the ancient Magazzino del Sale (Salt Warehouse), which was built during the second half of the 14th century in Empoli’s city centre, the glass museum tells the story of glass production in Empoli with location settings, videos and historical documentaries.
MUVE – Museo del Vetro di Empoli
Where: Via Ridolfi, 70 - Empoli
Located in an ancient crystal factory of the XIX century, the Museo del Cristallo in Colle Val d'Elsa reconstructs the history of crystal production, presenting examples of pre-industrial creation and glassy finds dating back to the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.
Museo del Cristallo di Colle Val d’Elsa
Via dei Fossi 8A - Colle di Val d'Elsa (Siena)
Florence's very own Porcelain Museum is hosted within the 18th-century building known as Palazzina del Cavaliere, set right on top of the Boboli hill.
Just to give you a hint of what to expect, it gathers European porcelains purchased by Habsburg-Lorraine Grand Dukes, along with collections brought by the Savoy Kings, and a remarkable amount of porcelains produced by the renowned Doccia Manufacture.
Museo delle Porcellane
Where: Enter the Boboli Garden from one of its three entrances (Palazzo Pitti, Porta Romana or Forte Belvedere).
Richard-Ginori is the oldest porcelain factory still active in Italy. Its roots are in the city of Sesto Fiorentino, where it was founded in 1735, marking the beginning of Tuscan porcelain production, the first in Europe.
The Richard-Ginori museum of Sesto Fiorentino, which is attached to the factory, gathers a huge collection of fine artisanal objects from the many Ginori factories in Italy but it is currently closed to the public.