Excellence in Economy. Italian craftsmanship in international markets: a comparative analysis between the Veneto and the Tuscan cases

Postdoctoral project supervised by Giovanni Luigi Fontana (Nov 2019-Nov 2020)

Francesco Catastini

The main objective of this research project is to trace the history and the transformation over time of Italian quality crafts, taking Veneto and Tuscany as case studies, and to explore how specific form of mobilities (trade flows and transfers) shaped these activities.
Italy appears to be the European country with the highest percentage of craft enterprises in total manufacturing activities. To understand this type of enterprise, its rootedness, and its territorial distribution in specialized districts of more or less longue durée, it is essential to use the historical perspective, combining it with the territorial, social and cultural dimension. My project focuses on a particularly significant territory for Italian craftsmanship of excellence, Tuscany, and on specific sectors (leather goods, jewellery, and footwear). These sectors represented, and still represent, reference points of excellence at a global level, whose practices (ideas, goods, and people) have been the subject of mobility phenomena. The aim of this research project will be to identify processes and procedures that led to the development of iconic products at a global level. In this sense, this work contributes to confer historical depth to the selected artisan production. To achieve these goals, the project combines an analysis of the existing scientific literature with statistical economic reconstructions and in-depth studies of individual business cases.