Top Travel Days of 2023, Meeting the Artisans of Florence

In early November I had the privilege of traveling to Florence, Venice, and Milan with a wonderful group of travel advisors hosted by Largay Travel, our link to the upscale Virtuoso consortium. It was an extravagant week of staying at 5-star properties and dining at Michelin-starred restaurants. Hey, someone has to do the research for members of ActiveTravels who will soon travel there!

We had great guides throughout our trip, touring the Duomo in Florence and the Jewish Ghetto in Venice, where you can visit two 16th-century synagogues still in use. But I really loved gaining access to local artisans, who were down narrow alleyways or streets you would never find on your own. That’s the sign of a good walking tour.


In Florence, we met a goldsmith, Nerdi Orafi, who works in the same building Salvatore Ferragamo once designed women’s shoes. She creates exquisite handmade necklaces and earrings with her husband in a small studio, their wares so exceptional that Dolce & Gabbana hired the couple to create jewelry for a fashion shoot. Of course, I couldn’t leave without buying earrings for Lisa, designed with three rings, the same symbol Michelangelo used on the marble he worked with. Just around the corner I met a 4th-generation marble paper artist and book binder, Riccardo Luci, who designs the patented peacock feather look on paper Florence is known for. He showed us his process of creating patterns and lightly applying the paper to the paint and water combination to soak up the patterns. Fascinating!