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Pumpkin time

It was good to see one of the city's artisans in action this morning at the fresh food markets of Sant'Ambrogio! Totally absorbed in his work, he was a welcome reminder that artisans are still active here and as proud as ever of their work, many still working in traditional ways, while others have modernised their crafts to suit more contemporary tastes.

Florence's artisan culture is a rich one, based on centuries of traditions and skills with apprentices learning from their maestri. A walk through some of Florence's artisan quarters is an inspiring way to experience how the Renaissance backbone of the city's culture has influenced today's artists and artisans.

Tuscan traditions going back to ancient times are in evidence all over the city. These include wrought ironwork, wood-working and furniture making, sculpture and glass-making, book-binding and paper-making, cobblers and handmade custom leatherwear, string instrument and hat-making, jewellery and fashion designing.

Of course the museums, churches and palazzi testify to the most obvious tradition. Florence has the greatest concentration of art (in proportion to its size) in the world, and is unanimously recognized as the cradle of the Renaissance. Not a bad place for a fledgling artist to linger, learn, absorb, assimilate and hopefully apply.

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