A village on the way from Firenze to Bologna founded by Florentines to their city's image and likeness. Today, the Italian capital of artisan knife-making and a perfect tourist destination in September
A map of this venue follows
About the village: rise...
Scarperia (1000 inhabitants in the old town) was founded in 1306 by the Florentines to control the only road connecting the Republic of Florence to the commune of Bologna (80Km from Scarperia), across the Pennine mountains.
That’s why while walking around Scarperia you’ll see that the city has the same symbol of Florence: the red iris.
At the time of the city’s foundation, the road was a very busy one: Italian, French and German merchants, warriors, travelers, and pilgrims had to take it in order to reach Rome from the Po Valley (NOTE: the Po has always been the longest and most important river in Italy, as it starts from the country’s borders with France and stretches through the North of Italy towards Ravenna, after crossing small villages and cities – such as Torino, Cremona and Ferrara).
Just to mention a few famous travelers, Scarperia was the stop of Francis I Duke of Lorraine and Grand Duke of Tuscany, Montaigne, Tolstoy, Balthasar de Monconys, and Charles de Brosses.
The settlement quickly grew in prosperity and in the same years when in Florence Arnolfo di Cambio was working on the building of Palazzo Vecchio (town hall of Florence) the people of Scarperia were erecting what became their most important building, Palazzo dei Vicari, as a replica of Palazzo Vecchio (see photos).
It was office and home to the vicario, the Florentine noble in charge of Scarperia, the main road and the surrounding territories.
For the following four centuries, Scarperia was a bustling city, rich with hotels, taverns, hospitals, stables, markets and artisans, until something changed.
Indeed, in 1753 the route connecting Bologna and Florence was changed to provide a plainer and larger road, better for carriages. Scarperia was no longer included in the path, the city’s economy started to decline but the village survived until our days mainly supported by the activity of its skilled craftsmen of knives and scissors, fine products internationally admired for their quality.
What to do in Scarperia today
Since 2014 the name of the city is Scarperia e San Piero, as the two administrative cities merged together.
Today you can visit the recently restored Palazzo Vicari, the Museo dei Ferri Taglienti (knife museum) and the Bottega del Coltellinaio (Knifemaker’s workshop) – the latter is a place nearly untouched since the 1940s where you can see a demonstration by local craftsmen of how knives were made in the past.
The best time for visiting Scarperia is during the two events Scarperia Renaissance days, in early September, and Palio del Diotto, on 8 September of every year. Another niche and interesting event is the Fair of the Custom Knife in October, for knives addicts.
OPENING DAYS AND HOURS:
Palazzo dei Vicari and Knife Museum
Summer (from 1 June to 15 September): Wed to Fri from 3.30pm to 7.30pm; Saturday and Italian bank holidays: 10am to 1pm, 3.30pm to 7.30pm
Winter (from 16 September to 1 June): Sat and Italian bank holidays: 10am to 1pm and 3pm to 6.30pm