Some friends of mine met and befriended a leather craftsman in Florence, Italy named Simone Taddei. Over the years they have sold his goods at a holiday bazaar which helps raise money for various schools and charities. They sell his handmade frames, cigar and glove boxes, jewelry boxes, business card holders, garbage cans and more in rich red or chocolate brown. I have been slowly collecting these items over the last eight years. I'm especially crazy about the shell shaped jewelry box. It is quite a little showpiece.
When my husband and I went to Italy a few years ago we decided to look up Simone. He met with us and spoke to us at length about the detailed process of making these fine leather goods. He learned the trade from his father and grandfather and said it takes nearly a dozen steps over the course of weeks to make a single item. He is quite proud of his work, as he should be for each piece is stunning and flawless.
Simone runs a one-man shop in a hard to find little workshop in Florence. Imagine my surprise when I came across him in The New York Times Travel magazine on Sunday! (click on #8) What great exposure for him. His work is impeccable and you would not be disappointed if you were to buy some of his goods for yourself or as gifts. You can call him direct or I can put you in touch with my friends who sell his stuff in Seattle.