Today we received two copies of our book, Fantasy in Florence, bound in finely tooled leather, the work of our friend Paolo Bruscoli. (That’s him at the top left of the blog with Sandy.) Paolo has purchased several boxes of our book and proudly displays the book in his shop window at Via Montebello 58R. You can visit his website here. Both of these handworked volumes have gold engraved lettering and tooling with the title and our names along with beautiful Renaissance patterning in the background.
Paolo, the fourth generation to run his firm, and his wife Silvia, became caring and wonderful friends. How we met the couple was a classic bit of Florentine serendipity. Sandy and I had spent some time browsing at the weekly antiques market in Piazza Santo Spirito and I’d bought a used copy of Frederick Hartt’s classic, History of Italian Renaissance Art.
Around the corner, we paused and looked in the window of an artist’s studio, only to have a gentleman come out and invite us inside. He turned out to be Attilio Franco, calligraphist and card maker, who also became a friend and took me for a few wild rides in his 1969 Fiat 500. I happened to mention at that first encounter that the book I’d just bought needed some work. Two days later, Attilio introduced us to Paolo Bruscoli, who happily did the minor repairs, and later let Sandy use some of his machinery.
Paolo sponsored us at a meeting of The Florence Foundation for Artistic Crafts where we met Giampiero Maracchi. Giampiero and his wife Irma Schwegler also became friends and we had a wonderful dinner at their house. It was Giampiero who told me about some of the other artisans who ended up being featured in the book such as Stephano Bemer and Paolo Penco.
And that’s how it goes in Florence. To start the ball rolling, all you have to do is buy a used book and the book you eventually write about your exploits will be leather bound by a lovely man you met along the way.
I too met the charming Attillio Franco and his talented friend Paolo in Florence in 1998. As a librarian I love my little hand-crafted book and cherish the momento.