<p>Arms of the major and minor Florentine arts</p>
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An itinerary entirely devoted to the Florentine trade guilds that contributed so much to the city's wealth and prestige.

Art of the Silk
Coat of arms of the Guild of della Seta - Silk (by Horemhat, CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons)
(by I, Sailko, CC BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia Commons)
(by Sailko, CC BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia Commons)

Coat of arms of the Guild of della Seta - Silk (by Horemhat, CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

On Via Di Capaccio at number 3 stands the ancient residence of the Arte Della Seta, one of the best-preserved guild headquarters in town. Before establishing themselves in this building, completed only during the 15th century, the wool guild resided in the parallel street of Por Santa Maria under the name of “Corporazione Dei Baldrigai”, or wool cutters. Around the middle of the 13th century, Lucca’s silk workers had to flee from the city’s sacking by Uguccione Della Faggiola and find refuge in Florence. Here, within a few years, they managed to gain the upper hand over the wool workers and secure control of the guild, even changing its name to the Arte Della Seta (Silk Art). In 1377 they decided to provide themselves with a new, more prestigious headquarters and began the construction of this palace. 

The building has typical fifteenth-century forms spread over three floors, with stone blocks laid in ashlar style and various friezes and insignia decorating the upper part. 

Above the main entrance, it is still possible to observe the guild’s emblem consisting of a depiction of a door (originally in red) to which some cherubs have been added. The origin of this emblem is still unclear, but it most likely must have been connected to one of the gates belonging to the ancient city walls, perhaps called Porta Rossa (Red Gate) because it was built of bare bricks. 

In terms of internal organisation, the Guild was administered by six consuls, two notaries and a “camarlingo” acting as treasurer. At first, the consuls were elected by the members, but later their names were drawn by lot. Their appointment could not be refused and was unpaid, however, at the end of their term they received a reward in kind as a token of gratitude for their service to the Art.

As with the members of the Arte Della Lana, those of the Arte Della Seta had to follow a series of very strict rules necessary to protect the interests of the guild. For example, one of them forbade the practice of the profession outside of Florence, thus preventing the spread of the secret techniques used by Florentine silk makers. 

Among the association’s manufacturers were highly specialised workers in the manufacture of specific garments, such as hat makers, “farsettai” (doublet makers), shoemakers, “berrettai” (bonnet makers) and “materassai” (mattress makers). From 1322 the professional category of goldsmiths also joined the guild, perhaps because they also sold luxury products reserved only for a very limited audience. 

Finally, the guild was characterised by the vital role played by women, skilled spinners, weavers and embroiderers, and by the strong spirit of welfare towards its members and its fellow citizens. Indeed, it was responsible for the foundation of the hospital of Santa Maria dell’Umiltà and the construction of Brunelleschi’s famous Spedale Degli Innocenti.


1. Art of Judges and Notaries

2. Art of the Beccai

3. Art of the Wool

4. Art of the Merchants

5. Art of the Corregiai

6. Art of the Silk