“Italy’s Bohemia”: an obligatory destination for turists traveling to Siena
The land of crystal of the Val d’Elsa
No tourist that arrives in Siena should miss visiting one of the most popular areas of Italy for what concerns its excellent artistic craftsmanship: the land of crystal of the Val d’Elsa. Here, between Siena, San Gimignano and Florence, in this picturesque town founded by the Etruscans where, for centuries, artisans of international level have been working with passion and mastery to create items of great artistic value. In fact, Colle di Val d’Elsa is known all around the world for the production of true works of art in crystal, and it has earned the important title of “Bohemia of Italy”. The local handicraft tradition, protagonist of this prestigious and ancient activity, started in the Middle Ages. In 1300, in fact, the first glassmakers appeared in this beautiful corner of Tuscany. The decision work with crystal, instead of glass, turned out to be successful right from the start, because the increase of the density of the material, thanks to the addition of chemical components, such as lead oxide, enhances the brilliance of the object created . The crystal thus appears brighter than glass and, when touched, emits a much fuller sound. The crystal manufacturers of Colle Val d’Elsa have been able to assert theselves on the world market through technological innovations that have produced increasingly original and elaborate items.
The museum of crystal of Colle Val d’Elsa: the history of one of Italy’s excellences
Located in the evocative underground of a furnace of the nineteenth century that belonged to one of the factories of the Schmidt Glass and Glassware, also known as the former Boschi glassworks, the Museum of Crystal of Colle Val d’Elsa is a precious expression of the excellent local arts and crafts. Visiting the different sections, the museum offers a broad overview of the Colligiana glass production since 1830. The collection, which also features interesting design pieces, is enriched by the presence of glass artifacts dating from the fourteenth and fifteenth century, decorated in some cases with incisions made through ancient glass-making techniques. At the conclusion of the exhibition, in addition, visitors can enter into a real crystal forest, an exciting and evocative tribute to the role that the crystal of Colle di Val d’Elsa occupies the local and international market.
The art of crystal: a worldwide business
The crystal of Colle Val d’Elsa is a true Italian excellence. Moreover, this artisan industry, by itself, produces 95% of crystal of Italy and about 15% of the world, mind-boggling numbers that express the extreme quality of the crystal produced and underline the hard work and creativity of the artisans who live in this small town. Right next to the Crystal Museum of Colle Val d’Elsa, tourists can freely visit several typical shops that offer, each with its own style, what can be defined without any doubt as the best handmade Italian crystal, with items which feature, as required by law, a label to certify its quality with the words “crystal with 24 percent of Lead”. For those who want to save on the purchase of souvenirs or furnishings for the house, the town also has a crystal shop in the Colle Val d’Elsa outlet, offering valuable pieces of the “Bohemia of Italy” at a much more affordable cost.