Hidden treasures

The Casentino cloth: an all-Tuscan excellence

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The Casentino cloth: an all-Tuscan excellence

It is a soft fabric, with excellent thermal insulation, waterproof and wear-resistant. Is this a state-of-the-art high-tech fiber designed in Tuscany? You won’t believe it but we are talking about a fabric created in the 1300s! It is the famous Casentino cloth, a woolen cloth produced in this beautiful area since Etruscans times. Why was it invented right here? Easily answered: because Casentino offered all that was needed for this type of production! First of all, there were sheep farms providing cheap material, watercourses for the washing and dyeing of the wool but also for powering the fulling mills, and finally the timber to heat the water for the dyeing.

The Casentino cloth is a durable fabric characterized by the classic curls which are the reasons for its strength and waterproofness. They form a sort of layer that allows the skin to breathe but at the same time keeps water out and therefore makes it perfect for the harsh winters of Casentino. The famous curls are created, from as early as the 1300s, by a process called 'rattinatura', whereby the wool is brushed with a stone. And did you know that orange, which is the most famous color of this fabric, is the result of a mistake? It all happened in the 16th century when the use of alum was experimented to try and make the fabric more waterproof, but this reacted with a dye and created the typical bright orange tincture! This met the approval of Florentine women so much that it became the iconic color of the fabric itself. Just think that in the beginning the fabric in the typical dark green color was used for the habits of the friars of the Camaldoli Monastery and the La Verna Sanctuary and for the cloaks of carters and as a cover for horses!

The iconic garment of this fabric is the classic orange Casentino coat for men with a fox collar: it was used by characters the likes of Bettino Ricasoli, Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini. Hardly a year goes by without a 'more or less imaginative' reinterpretation being featured at Pitti! There have also been celebrated ones by designers such as Ferré, Pucci, Carden and Cavalli. Tuscany’s crafts and ancient traditions are so fascinating: discover them with us thanks to our tour in the villages!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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