They’ve been there for more than 400 years, smelting, engraving, chiselling, encrusting and decorating, filling the shop fronts of the Ponte Vecchio with gold and silver.
It all began in 1593, when Grand Duke Ferdinando I de’ Medici decreed that the jewellers, gold- and silversmiths move to the Ponte Vecchio so that he could better keep an eye on their work. Gold and silver were assigned the task of representing and increasing Florence’s artistic and cultural prestige, making it a beacon of the Renaissance in line with the unitary conception of the arts, prevalent at the time.
There was certainly no shortage of crises and struggles along the way, yet the goldsmiths and silversmiths are still there, on the bridge and in the neighbouring streets, scattered in a myriad of tiny workshops where the artisans still work with their hands and age-old techniques to make precious items of all genres and styles. Among these are some masterpieces of silver, crafted with a chisel and a ciappola (a type of engraving tool), which elicit wonder and awe from passers-by along the Ponte Vecchio, as well as from window-shoppers in the city centre.