This is a short story about finding the unexpected. How we found the unique studio of Florence’s maestro goldsmith Alessandro Dari….and watched him run away.
Tireless hunt for Clet’s traffic signs
Our kids are running through the streets of Florence. Enthusiastic about finding more traffic signs carrying the distinctive art of Clet.
“Kids, wait! Wait please!”
-“Come on dad, I can see two more traffic signs. Let’s check them out!”
I look at my wife. We have been checking out hundreds of traffic signs throughout the city already. It’s almost like a Geo-cache kind of city hunt….[If you have no idea what I am talking about, please read this first before you continue!]
Suddenly the discussion about traffic signs stops when an interesting shop catches my eye: Alessandro Dari – Florentine maestro goldsmith.
It’s not that I am into jewelry but some of the work on display immediately attracts me. Sometimes you need only a blink of an eye to know you have stumbled upon something beautiful.
Studio Alessandro Dari
A kind of spiritual music is playing when we enter Alessandro Dari’s studio. We silently look around. It’s a kind of museum.
It looks like no one is around until I see a man sitting under a strange ball of light. In a corner of the room the master himself is working in his atelier. The crystal ball of light is one of his own masterpieces (Alessandro figured out himself how to make a little sun that gives off the same natural light as its real big brother outside).
The master is polishing a piece of jewelry. He holds it into the artificial sunlight, turns it around and looks at it carefully. He notices something and starts to polish it again. Same procedure. After five times he recognizes his visitors. A quick nod of welcome and acceptance.
Perception of Time
Even if you are not really into jewelry, this is a must-see place when you visit Florence. Alessandro is self-taught and he claims his work is based on a constant spiritual quest. Most pieces are not your regular jewelry, they are more like sculptures. Near the entrance you can see one of his most famous pieces: Perception of Time.
This piece of jewelry has movement, light and sound. Alessandro wanted to capture the change in perception of time. He writes himself: “Everybody perceives time in a different way: someone in the middle of a working day, someone who is falling from a three-storey building, or someone in love.” This piece is his colossal work of Time.
Lots of magazines and leaflets are spread around the shop. I look at some of the pages and gently move my finger over the text and images. I am thinking…..this man is a hero and he is sitting right there!
Reading the story about him being a goldsmith and an alchemist, I look around to find evidence in his studio. Alessandro studied chemistry and did his own research into alchemy which he defines as ‘a conscious state of material’. Looking around I understand why he is not only called a goldsmith, but also a pharmacist, an alchemist and even a sculptor.
Alchemist on running shoes
Suddenly the maestro rises. He walks towards the back of his shop.
“Dad, what is he doing?” the kids ask while they are signing the guest book.
“Maybe he is he going to play the guitar?” (we noticed the guitar in the corner of the studio)
“Don’t know, let’s see. Maybe he is about to make gold out of a stone…..”
A look of surprise. “Gold?” I think I aroused some kind of interest.
Alessandro returns with a pair of running shoes. He sits down, laughs at us again before putting on his shoes. No gold, no elixir of life. Just a normal man in need of some exercise to stay healthy.
After leaving the shop we look over our shoulder, just in time to see a man with long and curly black hair running the streets of Florence. An alchemist on running shoes.
The museum workshop of Alessandro Dari is located at via San Niccolo 115/r, south side of the Arno river. This area of Florence is called Oltrarno (meaning ‘beyond the Arno’). Some of his pieces are on permanent display in Paris and Venice. You can check Dari’s website at Alessandrodari.com
Interested in more Florence travel tips? Just click to read ‘Hidden secrets of Florence’.
Our trip to Florence was made possible by GowithOh.