MIDA International Artisan Trade Fair 2023


The handcrafted work of a MIDA exhibitor, L’Ulivo di Mastro Jack

April 25 – May 1: INTERNATIONAL ARTISAN TRADE FAIR (MIDA). Fortezza da Basso. April 25, 29, 30 & May 1: 10 am – 10 pm, April 26 – 28: 10 am – 8 pm. Tickets €7 at ticket office, €6 online. If under 25 or over 65 years old, tickets €5. Children under 12 free with adult.  Adjacent parking.

The International Artisan Trade fair is returning to Florence for its 87th edition and will feature exhibitors and their handmade crafts from countries all around the world. The fair will take place in Fortezza da Basso, a building of Renaissance architecture created in the 16th century. The venue, used for Florence’s congress and exhibitions, will use 25,000 square meters of space for creators to show off their crafts to an enthusiastic and curious crowd.

The fair started in 1931 and was the first arts and crafts trade show in Italy. The Tuscan region has been deeply rooted in craftsmanship for centuries and the artisan workshop remains an integral part of Florentine life, with traditional and contemporary crafts continuing to flourish and sometimes developing into high tech creations.  The fair attempts to showcase the vast diversity of crafts, artisans, methods and materials from around the globe.  Some of the participants utilize skills passed down for generations while others employ techniques or materials on the cutting edge of technology.  This year’s schedule of events, rich with workshops, conferences, laboratories and live demonstrations offers something for everyone who is interested in the global artisan community.

Visitors can stroll through the vast two-level complex filled with craftspeople displaying and demonstrating their art from that created by centuries’ old techniques to others created by 21st century lasers.  One can find a one-of-a-kind hand carved toy, a custom fit leather belt, a hand-woven carpet from Morocco or colorful scarves and fabrics from Thailand and India.

If hunger or thirst strikes, bars with drinks, snacks and sandwiches can be found steps away. Food stalls with regional specialties offer samples of their wares and visitors can enjoy arancini or the delicious ricotta filled cannoli pastry from Sicily then try some rich cheese from France along with honey from Romania.

This year’s admission ticket will also include special and free access to the Abita exhibition, which will occur simultaneously with the International Crafts Fair. Abita will highlight everything relating to the category of homes: from furniture and architecture to designs and technologies, this exhibition will have it all. Abita aims to show guests the importance of sustainable building, furnishing, design and green living.

The program for this edition of the International Crafts Fair will include participation from the global artisan community, educational workshops, exhibitions, conventions and live demonstrations. The following are activities and exhibitions to visit while at the fair:

Up to the Craft

Young artisans will give demonstrations of their work in this section of the crafts fair, located in the Sala della Volta. Joining the young artisans are creators of new, up-and-coming start-up companies. University students interested in creating crafts that are reused and recycled will also attend the Up to the Craft exhibition. The focus will be a new twist on contemporary artisans who implement new materials, technologies, techniques and skills in their work while still using traditional artisan craft. Free educational workshops for children up to 11 years old will be held by the Associazione Osservatorio dei Mestieri d’Arte, or OMA. Reservations are mandatory.

Women at Work

Located in Sala dell’Arco, Stefano Lupi, an experienced professional in the audiovisual communication field, has created a photo exhibit to pay tribute to the entire Tuscan region. Titled Artisti e Artigiani: 100 scatti del fare e dell’essere Toscana (Artists and Artisans – 100 Snapshots about “making” and being “Tuscany”), the event will show its audience how the history of art, along with the creativity of people, within the region have made it what it is today: unique and excellent. Those photographed in the exhibit are artists and artisans who explain the importance of their craft and of their lives as artisans. The photos and messages told within the pictures will preserve the stories of these incredible individuals so they are not forgotten.

Along with the public demonstrations featuring jewelry making and the workshops in the Up to the Craft area, on the attic floor of the Spadolini Pavilion, Unicoop Firenze (April 29, 30 and May 1) and the Association of Tuscan Chefs (April 25 through 28) will be hosting cooking shows with free tastings and events.

From novelties and designs; to foods and beverages; to tailoring and accessories — amongst many others — everything can be found at the International Crafts Fair. Exhibitors from all around the world come to Florence to present their specialty items to the Italian and tourist communities.

Glazed ceramic pots, bowls and vases made by the HIMA/CICE Ceramica smaltata (Ehyaeei) company, which is based out of Iran, will be at the fair. Also joining is KnapikUNIQUE, a handmade, unique furniture company that comes from Slovakia. Lithuania brings to the fair a company called Laisvoji forma, which specializes in handcrafted products made of ceramic such as bells, figures, cups and candle holders along with hand-sewn kitchen linens like potholders, oven mitts, aprons and dish towels.

Italian companies will also be at the festival, like InnBamboo, an Italian company that makes clothing and accessories out of bamboo and other green fiber materials. Caffidea, a company in Italy that specializes in handcrafted lamps – who recently created a product line of lamps that are dedicated to a long-lived Italian symbol: the coffee pot – will also be in attendance at the fair.

The combination of art, demonstrations, tastings and exhibitions will have guests occupied and enjoying themselves the entire time they are at the fair. The International Crafts Fair is not something to miss – especially for fans of artisan crafts and works of art.

For more information on the event, visit: https://mostrartigianato.it. (Parker Hurley/additional reporting by Rita Kungel)