The Art of Florentine Marquetry: Watching Italian Mosaicists “Painting with Stones”

The arts have long flourished in Florence — the so-called “cradle of the Renaissance.” Hundreds of years ago, there were tens of thousands of artisans in the city, each dedicated to everything from leather goods and hand-decorated paper to jewelry making. Over time, the number of workshops has declined. Nevertheless, Florence still has a sizable amount of artisans and craftspeople, including several master mosaicists who specialize in Florentine marquetry — also sometimes called pietra dura or Florentine mosaics.

What is Florentine Marquetry?

Florentine marquetry in semi-precious stones (Italian: Commesso Fiorentino in pietre dure) is a type of mosaic. However, Florentine marquetry differs from the ancient Greek, Roman, or Byzantine mosaics you might have seen in pictures or in museums.

Both types of art are formed by assembling individual pieces or tiles (tesserae) to create a complete picture. With ancient mosaics, the individual pieces tend to be somewhat uniform in size and shape. You can see the spaces between the tiles, and grout is used to join them together.

Florentine marquetry, in contrast, is a decorative inlay technique in which stone pieces of varying sizes and shapes are used. And since they’re so finely assembled, the joints appear virtually invisible.

In 1588, the influential Medici family established a workshop dedicated to stone pieces of art made via the Florentine marquetry technique. For a time, this workshop was located inside the Uffizi (which housed government offices long before it became the world-famous art gallery it is today). Mosaicists at this Florentine marquetry workshop produced the grandiose works that you can still see inside the Medici Chapels, for example. These master artisans also crafted furniture, reproductions of famous paintings, and gifts for European leaders. Eventually, the workshop moved into another building and evolved into a world-renowned conservation center, as well as a museum. Today, it’s known as the Opificio delle Pietre Dure (Semi-Precious Stones Workshop & Museum). It’s a museum I highly recommend!

Between the 16th and 19th centuries, Florence became the exclusive hub for the production of art objects made via the stone marquetry technique. Eventually, the technique came to be known as Commesso Fiorentino. (The word commesso is the past participle of the Italian word commettere, which means “to put together.” So you could also translate it as a composition. Fiorentino means Florentine.) Soon, monarchs throughout Europe wanted to emulate this decorative art. Workshops similar to the one started by the Medici were also established by the Habsburgs in Prague, and by Louis XIV in France.

Florence’s stone marquetry might have even influenced members of the Mughal Dynasty in what is now India. The Taj Mahal is a brilliant example of how 17th-century century artists in India reinterpreted this art form and made it their own. (When I went to the Taj Mahal and visited Agra more than a decade ago, I stopped by a few inlaid-stone shops to marvel at their handcrafted tables and jewelry boxes crafted via the technique, which is called parchin kari. At the time, I didn’t know the art’s origins.)

The skyline of the city of Florence, Italy with a blue sky overhead.
Florence’s skyline. The Palazzo Vecchio’s tower (left) and the Florence Cathedral (Duomo di Firenze) with its magnificent dome (right).

A Video of Our Experience

A Travel Rebirth in the Cradle of the Renaissance

Last summer, Shawn and I were fortunate to spend one fantastic month in Florence, Italy’s artistic and cultural powerhouse. For the previous 14 months, we’d been taking pandemic precautions in a lovely part of coastal Croatia, where we’d unexpectedly gotten “stuck” when the Covid pandemic began.

Eventually, we learned that we wouldn’t be eligible to receive our Covid vaccinations in Croatia. So, we reluctantly boarded an overnight ferry, crossed the Adriatic Sea, and traveled to Italy to get our vaccines at an American Air Force base. It was complicated traveling to Italy during a pandemic, but we’ll always be grateful to the service members there for taking care of us.

Once we were fully vaccinated, we headed to Florence. There, we had a travel rebirth of sorts — albeit prudently — in the birthplace of the Renaissance. For four weeks, we visited Florence’s celebrated museums and gardens. We also decided to learn more about some of Florence’s artistic traditions, including its magnificent stone artwork.

Reflecting on my childhood, I can now see why I was drawn to learn more about Florence’s stone masterpieces. When I was growing up, I loved stones and rocks! I spent hours exploring the woods behind my home and even found some fossil samples. As a kid, rather amusingly, I was convinced those fossils contained samples of dinosaur skin or eggs. I also made a few visits to a local shop, where there were highly polished stone samples for sale. I’m grateful that my parents helped satisfy my curiosity by taking me to that shop — as well as to our local university — to identify my fossils and tiny stones. I still have a small box of them.

In recent years, I’ve gone on to observe apprentices sculpting dazzling white limestone at the Stonemasonry School on the Croatian island of Brač. However, this was the first time I’ve watched artisans working with puzzle-sized pieces to create this type of stone mosaic art.

Where to See Semi-Precious Stonework and Florentine Marquetry (Commesso Fiorentino) in Florence

Detail of furniture decorated with stone inlay work (Florentine marquetry). Depicted on a black background are a multicolored bowl of fruit, birds, and flowers.
Ornate furniture inside the Palazzo Vecchio. The detail on the pomegranate is incredible! It looks like the jeweled seed is bursting out of the fruit.
Wooden antique desks once used in a Florentine marquetry workshop sit next to glass cabinets filled with samples of semi-precious stones. This is one section of Florence's Opificio delle Pietre Dure Museum.
One section of the Semi-Precious Stones Workshop & Museum (Opificio delle Pietre Dure & Museo) showcases antique desks and equipment. Inside the display cases on the wall, there are dozens of stone samples — ranging from agate and onyx to malachite and porphyry.
a variety of stone samples used for making "Pietra Dura" artwork.
Three wall panels created either via the Florentine marquetry technique or via painting.
Left: Art — two different ways. In the top photo, the scene is rendered in semi-precious stones, but the bottom piece is a painted example. Right: Detail of a nature scene, made out of semi-precious stones.
A large mostly back stone fountain sits in the middle of a museum display alongside wallpaintings created via the Florentine marquetry (Florentine mosaic) technique.
An ornate table at the Semi Precious Stones Workshop and Museum is predominantly black and gold with inlaid stone work depicting shells and coral.
An ornate table top at the Semi-Precious Stones Workshop & Museum.
The interior of the Chapel of Princes, in the Medici Chapel in Florence, Italy. Here, several tourists look at the ornately decorated walls as well as the stone sarcophagi.
The Chapel of Princes (Cappella dei Principi). There are six empty sarcophagi in this room; the remains of the Medici family members are actually in the chapel’s crypt
Left: The tomb of Ferdinando Medici, inside the Medici Chapels. Right: Florence's crest. There is a fleur de lys in the center with flourishes. Written above it are the words "Florentiae Civitas."
Left: The tomb of Ferdinando. Right: The crest of Florence. The fleur-de-lys in the center is made from coral. “Florentiae-Civitas” is Latin for “The city of Florence.”
Inlaid stone works featuring several panels and city crests at the Medici Chapels in Florence, Italy.
Tourists stand on the ornate floor of Florence's Medici Chapel. The floor features intricate stone marquetry work.
Visitors’ feet help show the chapel’s monumental scale.

A Visit to Scarpelli Mosaici Boutique & Workshop

Scarpelli Mosaici is a family-run workshop (bottega) and boutique where master artisans Renzo and Leonardo Scarpelli make, showcase, and sell their Florentine marquetry masterpieces. This father-and-son duo is supported by Renzo’s wife, Gabriella (a jewelry artist herself), and daughter Catia (who is in charge of the business and marketing strategies). A handful of other talented mosaicists and shop assistants also round out this friendly, tight-knit team.

The effect achieved via Florentine marquetry has been likened to “painting with stones,” something Catia Scarpelli alluded to during our summertime visit to the family’s workshop.

“You have to ‘paint’ with a material that’s one of the hardest there is while also achieving softness and movement with the stones,” Catia explained.

Because of its everlasting nature, a 15th-century painter named Domenico Ghirlandaio described Commesso Fiorentino as “painting for eternity” (pittura per l’eternità).

The Scarpellis make a variety of handmade luxury items. With their paintings, subjects include Florentine and Tuscan landscapes, seascapes, flowers, still lifes, animals and children, portraits, and contemporary pieces inspired by the cosmos. They also craft jewelry and extraordinary table tops, which often feature a black background that is adorned with flowers, birds, and perhaps even pomegranates. Some of these works have taken months — even many years — to produce.

Collectors from six continents have purchased their work, and Renzo and Leonardo have even collaborated with iconic brands like Dolce & Gabbana to make a clutch bag.

“Self-criticism helps us to grow artistically and a bit of humility is always needed.”

– Renzo Scarpelli
Florentine marquetry masters Renzo and Leonardo Scarpelli stand inside their Florence, Italy workshop.
Left: Scarpelli Mosaici. Right: Father and son Renzo and Leonardo Scarpelli. The two are among a small number of Florentine marquetry masters left in the world. Renzo started learning how to make Florentine marquetry at a Florence workshop when he was 13 years old. Initially, his father did not approve of this vocation. Fortunately, Renzo persevered and continued to follow his passion. Eventually, his son, Leonardo, recognized that Florentine marquetry was his calling, too.
The interior of Scarpelli Mosaici boutique and workshop in Florence, Italy.
Scarpelli Mosaici doubles as a boutique and a workshop. The building dates back to the 14th century, and in the 16th century, it was a stable. The framed artwork on the left depicts the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge), Florence’s most famous bridge. Incredibly, the artwork is made up of almost 2,000 pieces.

How Florentine Marquetry is Made, Step by Step

  1. Sourcing the stones: Master mosaicists like Renzo and Leonardo head to the Tuscan countryside to collect stones that are appropriate for a project. In nature, the quality stones they’re seeking can look deceptively plain — like nondescript rocks. For this reason, it can take years for a master to develop an eagle eye for just the right stone specimens. When a mosaicist can’t find a stone locally, they supplement their supply by purchasing stones like lapis lazuli, malachite, and turquoise from specialists abroad. The Scarpellis prefer to personally go to shows, so that they can meet the importers and ensure the stones are just the right color and tone. Eventually, the stones are sawed into thin “slices” that are 3 millimeters (about 1/8 of an inch) thick .
  2. Sketching out the artwork: The mosaicists draw the artwork on a kind of sticky paper. From there, they cut out the drawing’s individual shapes and attach these “cartoons” to the section of the stone that has just the right variegation to make the artwork come alive.
  3. Selecting the stonemacchiatura: During the macchiatura (coloring) phase, the mosaicist chooses which stones to use for every individual piece of the composition. To achieve a brilliant chromatic effect with the finished work, he takes into account the desired colors, his experience, and personal tastes.
  4. Cutting the stone and filing it: The semi-precious stone is glued to a slate board, which offers more structural support. Then, using a wooden bow saw that’s outfitted with a piece of iron wire, the mosaicists meticulously cut out the various shapes into puzzle-like pieces (tessera). Later, the mosaicist uses a diamond file to smooth the fragments’ edges to ensure there will be a fit so perfect that the joints are essentially invisible.
  5. Assembling and gluing the pieces together: The mosaicists painstakingly assemble the stone pieces together to create the composition they sketched out earlier in the process. Then, using a traditional glue recipe that’s made with beeswax and pine resin, they glue the pieces together. `Later, the Scarpellis apply a synthetic adhesive (mastic gum) that’s even more robust since it doesn’t deteriorate.
  6. Smoothing and polishing: The mosaicists smooth and polish the work in order to accentuate the stones’ brilliant natural characteristics.
Standing by his desk, a Florentine marquetry master compares stone samples as he works on a piece of art.
Renzo examines fragments of semi-precious stones, looking for just the right coloring and shading. Despite being one of the only Florentine marquetry masters in the world, Renzo told us that he can always do better. In the family’s book, which was published in 2019, Renzo said, “Self-criticism helps us to grow artistically and a bit of humility is always needed.”
Framed fine artwork for sale inside Florence's Scarpelli Mosaici boutique. There is a scene of Florence as well as two pieces depicting flowers on a black background.
Paintings featuring scenes of Florence, as well as floral motifs.
Florence's skyline is depicted using semi-precious stones, made via the Florentine mosaic / marquetry method.
A classic Florence scene rendered in semi-precious stone. From left to right, you can spot the Ponte Vecchio, tower of the Palazzo Vecchio, and the Duomo (Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore).
A variety of semi-precious stone "shavings" sit on a master artisan's desk. They range from pink and green to blue and orange.
A variety of stones sit on Renzo’s desk. In the past, there used to be specialists who sourced the stones in the quarries, hills, and woods outside Florence. These stone seekers then came to Florence to sell the stones to mosaicists. Renzo mentioned that he was able to recognize the stone seeker’s arrival decades ago by the sound of the man’s Vespa. When that man died. the knowledge of where to find these stones was lost. The next generation of mosaic artists had no choice but to recreate the stone “treasure maps” on their own. Today, the Scarpellis source the stones in the Tuscan countryside themselves. However, the process has become increasingly challenging as more and more land is made private.
Labeled tubs of semi-precious stones fill a cabinet in a Florence, Italy Florentine mosaic / marquetry workshop. They range from lapis to portasanta.
Tubs filled with slices of semi-precious stones, organized by type.
A woman in an artisan's workshop holds two rocks in her hand as she explains the process of making Florentine mosaics / Florentine marquetry.
To a person with an untrained eye, these rocks don’t look like anything special.
A woman in a master artisan's workshop holds two rocks as she explains the process of making Florentine mosaics / Florentine marquetry.
However, once cut and polished, the stone shows off its extraordinary features.
A sketch of a flower drawn onto "cartoon" paper — one step in the process of making artwork via the Florentine marquetry (Florentine mosaic) technique.
After a design has been sketched out, it’s transferred to adhesive paper, and turned into a cartoon, which is similar to a sticker.
A woman shows two thin sheets of semi-precious rock, one green, one brownish-orange. They have adhesive stickers on them so the master artisan knows where to cut.
Once the master chooses the appropriate colored stone, the adhesive “cartoon” is applied to the thin slab of stone (known as a slice).
A master artisan attaches a fragment of semi-precious stone to a slate board, as he prepares the stone for cutting.
Renzo attaches the stone fragment to a piece of slate, which will act a a support. Next, he’ll attach the slate board to a clamp, drill a hole at the edge of the cartoon, and cut the desired shape out using a piece of fine wire.
One of the desks used to cut the stone fragments. Resting on the desk are a wooden bow saw and a small bowl filled with grey liquid, including water and silicon carbide.
To precisely cut the desired shape out of stone, the artisan uses a bow saw (traditionally made from cherry, chestnut, or hazel wood) outfitted with an iron wire. He also applies silicon carbide (an abrasive material, pictured here in the bowl) to the saw. After diamond dust, silicon carbide is the second-hardest abrasive material in the world.
Using a wooden bow saw, master artisan Renzo Scarpelli cuts stone with an iron wire.
Left: This square-shaped slate panel and the stone shapes that have been already cut out. You can see some of the adhesive cartoons on the sections that will later be cut. Right: Renzo cuts the tree shape out of the green stone and the slate panel. The gooey grey substance is the silicon carbide mixture.
Using a wooden bow saw, Florence artisan Renzo Scarpelli cuts stone with an iron wire.
Renzo continues to saw, working to cut a tree-shaped fragment.
The master artisan removes the white adhesive paper outline and washes the dust away from the newly cut stone fragment.
Once the tree shape has been cut, Renzo removes the cartoon and washes the dust away from the newly cut fragment.
The master artisan assembles individual fragments of stone in order to complete a Florentine mosaic that depicts the skyline of Florence, Italy.
From here, the scene continues to be pieced together.
The master artisan finely sands the edges of two individual stone fragments to ensure they fit together seamlessly.
Renzo uses a fine saw on the edges of each piece (left) to ensure there’s a good fit (right).
A master artisan melts a block of beeswax as he joins together two stone fragments.
To attach the pieces, Renzo melts a “glue” made of beeswax and pine tree resin.
A master artisan holds an unfinished Florentine marquetry artwork. He's displaying the back of the piece so visitors can see how it's all glued together.
The back of the Florentine marquetry. Note the droplets of natural glue to hold it all together.
The master artisan assembles individual fragments of stone in order to complete a Florentine mosaic that depicts the skyline of Florence, Italy.
The master artisan assembles individual fragments of stone in order to complete a Florentine mosaic that depicts the Duomo, trees, and other towers in Florence, Italy.
After the scene is all pieced and glued together, the master will polish it.
A pile of multicolored stone "veneer" used for Florentine marquetry (inlaid stone) artwork.
The stone comes alive when it’s spritzed with water. I adore the brilliant-blue lapis lazuli on the left.
Inlaid stone artwork depicting a 9/11 scene of three rescue-workers raising the American flag in New York City among grey rubble.
An American art collector commissioned this scene of 9/11 rescue workers raising an American flag at Ground Zero. Here, Catia pointed out the staggering amount of detail on the camouflage pants, as well as the rubble. I’m intrigued by how many fragments of stone the artisans had to use to achieve the realistic detail. To see more pictures of the process they went through to make this work, see this Instagram post.
Right: Catia’s son shadows with master mosaicist, Leonardo. The family makes a point of welcoming groups of local schoolchildren to the workshop so they can learn about their city’s artisanal heritage.
A woman holds a child's "Pietre Dura" artwork depicting a yellow and white butterfly.
Leonardo made this butterfly out of semi-precious stones when he was seven years old — pretty impressive for a child!
Leonardo’s work in progress.
Catia, Renzo, Leonardo, and shop assistant Mayumi. Not pictured is Renzo’s wife, Gabriella, as well as several other specialists who assist with the artwork.
Shawn, Renzo, me, Leonardo, and Catia. The Scarpellis said that their ancestors have been in Florence “forever.”
The desk of a Florentine master mosaicist is covered with semi-precious stone samples ranging from blue lapis lazuli to green malachite.

Further Resources:

Where in the World?

Planning Pointers:

How to Visit Scarpelli Mosaici:

The Scarpelli Mosaici workshop is located in a fabulous 16th-century building with red-brick vaulted ceilings. The shop is about halfway between two of Florence’s most celebrated sights — the Galleria dell’Accademia (home to Michelangelo’s statue of David), and the Duomo. This central location makes it convenient to visit and observe the Scarpelli masters at work as they keep this marvelous Florentine tradition alive.

Visiting is free and you don’t need to make an appointment. If you stop by, someone in the shop will be happy to explain the technique and share the family’s story.

To organize a private tour, contact someone at the shop in advance. The Scarpellis even offer art and wine tasting experiences.

Accommodation in Florence:

Shawn and I spent one month in Florence and stayed in Giotto, an Airbnb apartment. It was located in the San Frediano neighborhood, about 20 minutes’ walking distance from the Uffizi Gallery and the Santa Maria Novella Train Station.

The apartment had a living room/kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom and it offered a lovely mix of old and new. The interior was recently renovated and had a brand-new washing machine, dishwasher, refrigerator, and two air conditioners. Like most Italian apartments, the Giotto also had an espresso maker, in this case a Bialetti Venus moka. We loved the sleek design and functionality so much that we later bought one.

Since we had a fair amount of luggage with us, we also liked that the apartment had lots of storage space. What’s more, the ceilings above our bedroom and the kitchen were a work of art themselves! They were painted in the early-20th century. After a long day of sightseeing in the sweltering June and July heat, we loved coming “home,” lying in bed, and looking at the scenes of birds and nature above our bedroom.

The apartment overlooked a courtyard that doubled as a small parking lot for the other residents. Since we weren’t facing the street (with all the scooters whizzing by), the apartment was blissfully quiet. We also enjoyed chatting with the the apartment’s thoughtful and helpful owners, Paola and Roberto.

Looking for more Italy trip-planning inspiration?

From seeing how Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is made in Modena to visiting Leonardo da Vinci’s Vineyard in Milan, see all of my posts from Italy.

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Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

Published by Tricia A. Mitchell

Tricia A. Mitchell is a freelance writer and photographer. Born in Europe but raised in the United States, she has lived in Valletta, Malta; Heidelberg, Germany; and Split, Croatia. An avid globetrotter who has visited more than 65 countries, she has a penchant for off-season travel. Tricia has learned that travel’s greatest gift is not sightseeing, rather it is the interactions with people. Some of her most memorable experiences have been sharing a bottle of champagne with distant French cousins in Lorraine, learning how to milk goats in a sleepy Bulgarian village, and ringing in the Vietnamese New Year with a Hanoi family. She welcomes any opportunity to practice French and German, and she loves delving into a place’s history and artisanal food scene. A former education administrator and training specialist, Tricia has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in international relations. She and her husband, Shawn, married in the ruins of a snowy German castle. They’ve been known to escape winter by basing themselves in coastal Croatia or Southeast Asia. Her writing has appeared in Fodor’s Travel, Frommer’s, and International Living.

19 thoughts on “The Art of Florentine Marquetry: Watching Italian Mosaicists “Painting with Stones”

    1. Hi Darlene,

      Thanks for your message. I find it amazing, too! Ever since our visit to Italy, I’ve fallen down a Florentine marquetry rabbit hole, trying to learn as much about the art as I can. :) As you mentioned, it’s reassuring to know that the technique is being handed down to new generations. Commesso Fiorentino takes many years to master though, so there are only a few master mosaicists left in Florence.

      I hope that you might have the chance to watch these masters at work someday. Have you already visited Florence?

  1. Unbelievable the intricacy of the work, Tricia. I’ve been privileged to see some of the marquetry in situ in Florence and I love those tables but the modern application is fascinating. I love it!

    1. Jo, indeed, it’s a bit like an intricate Renaissance puzzle, albeit a very refined one. Like you, I think the tables are incredible. I also love the floral pendants with the black background.

      Do you remember some of the places where you saw the stone marquetry in Florence? I’m making note of additional “hidden” spots to see there when we return someday. In the meantime, Shawn and I have been watching the Medici on Netflix. I know it’s not all historically accurate, but the scenery and Renaissance-era costumes are wonderful.

      1. That’s a museum I’d love to get back to, Jo. The first time I was there on a girls’ getaway, we waited in line for several hours. By the time we were admitted, there were only about 1.5 hours to go before closing time. Shawn and I are fortunate to have spent about 5 hours there, but we still felt hurried. Coincidentally, the Medici’s Florentine marquetry workshop (which evolved into the present-day conservation center/museum) used to be inside the Uffizi. Not a bad office space!

    1. Carol, definitely a dream of a place to stay put; we feel incredibly fortunate to have been there when the city was relatively empty. While we were in Italy, we met a retired American couple who was unexpectedly “stuck” in Florence for about a year due to the pandemic. They had wonderful things to say about the city’s gardens, in particular.

      Wishing you a lovely week ahead. :)

    1. Hi Zlática, it’s so nice to hear from you! I’m glad you enjoyed this peek into the Scarpelli’s workshop.

      Speaking of stone art, were you able to uncover any more information about your Croatian ancestors who constructed the building that is now Brač’s Stonemasonry School? I hope so, but I know genealogy can be challenging. I suppose it’s like Florentine marquetry in that you need just the right details to complete the puzzle. :)

  2. This is among the most beautiful things I’ve ever ‘seen’, Tricia. It’s incredible how a seven-year-old Leonardo made that butterfly! Clearly he inherited his father’s passion and talent. Admittedly, the first time I read about pietra dura was from a blog post on Taj Mahal, but I wasn’t aware of its Florentine origin. Thanks to you now I have even more reason to visit Florence!

    1. Bama, I share your sentiment about this being one of the most beautiful arts I have seen too! I also think it’s fitting that Leonardo was named after one of the greatest talents of the Renaissance. If I lived in Florence, I could see myself spending hours observing Renzo and Leonardo at work. There’s something meditative about watching people create something.

      I hope you’ll have the chance to get to Florence in the near future, so you can see Florentine marquetry / pietra dura in person. Shawn and I only had time to visit two artisan’s workshops in Florence (this one, as well as a paper marbler / bookbinder), but as you can imagine, there are many more workshops in town. When you visit Florence, I’d be happy to put you in touch with Catia, who manages the workshop. The family is passionate about spreading awareness of Florentine marquetry, as they want to ensure the tradition is handed down to the next generation. As a former educator, I respect that they even invite local schoolchildren and youth to the workshop so they can learn about their city’s artistic heritage.

      1. Thank you, Tricia. I will remember to ask you about Catia’s contact when I go to Florence one day. I really appreciate their commitment to preserving this unique tradition.

  3. It is amazing what artists can create with the materials around them ~ and this mosaic stone work is truly inspirational. Florence is one of these places I have desired to see since I was young, and first started learning of the Renaissance and all of the great art and artists of this area… and I still have not visited. This post of yours give me another reason to get there as soon as I can. People can have talent but it seems artists here in your blog take not just talent but a lot of passion to create such magic. Brilliant, and what a feeling it must have been to see and learn all you did. Thank you, Tricia, and wish you a great week ahead.

    1. Hi Randall, it is amazing to see how artists transform local materials into something great! I think it’s also intriguing how these mosaicists go on a “treasure hunt” to find the stones in the countryside. I like to imagine them in past decades, using weathered, hand-drawn paper maps to find the desired stones. Someday, I’d love to shadow them as they do this. Since the stones don’t look special to an untrained eye, I likely wouldn’t find any. But it would be insightful to see their process.

      I’m fortunate to have visited Florence before, but this trip was the first time I was able to get “behind the scenes.” It’s one thing to marvel at the masterpieces in situ, but quite another to watch the skilled hands that continue to make them. I hope you’ll be able to visit Florence in the near future, Randall. When you do, feel free to let me know if you have any questions. In the meantime, I wish you a wonderful week.

      1. Yes, the way you describe going out to find the treasures from which you create art, something from the heart ~ and this process you describe begins with care from the raw materials. Just the expertise in understanding what you want and then going out to find them and voila, magic happens. Always something special about watching talent, for even though we may lack the talent we can learn so much about ‘the process’ which we can bring into our own lives to create something special. I too hope my trip to Florence is in the near future, and when it arrives will bother you with a few questions :-) Take care, and wish you a great weekend.

      2. I love this thought that you shared, Randall:

        “Even though we may lack the talent we can learn so much about ‘the process’ which we can bring into our own lives to create something special.”

        I suspect I don’t have an instinctive ability to do this art, but you’re so right that the process can still inspire me to create some art that I find more “accessible.” :) Funny as it may seem, I was wondering what kind of “pietra dura” one could make using brilliant pieces of fruit or vegetables. The idea came to me one day as I was working with colorful beets, carrots, persimmons, etc. I bet this father-and-son duo could create some fabulous edible art!

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