Pro Loco Signa A.P.S.


Domenico Sebastiano MICHELACCI was born in Galeata (province of Forlì) on January 29, 1669 and, therefore, is not from Bologna, but from Tuscany. In fact, Galeata belongs to the portion that until 1923 was part of the Tuscany region, today called Romagna Toscana.

A dutiful tribute to Domenico Sebastiano Michelacci who, with his revolutionary cultivation method, managed to obtain very fine straw destined for the creation of hats known everywhere as “chapeaux de paille d’Italie” or “Florence Straw Hat” and spread throughout the world as the first example of made in Italy product.

It was a revolutionary initiative that allowed the Florentine district to become the first producer of quality straw hats in all of the West.

In 1714 in Signa he began to develop an innovative technique of cultivating straw for plaiting which made it possible to obtain very fine braids with which he made refined hats. As reported by the plaque in the church of San Miniato in Signa, where he was buried, he was the first to export and sell straw hats abroad. He died in Signa on August 3, 1739.

Domenico Sebastiano Michelacci married Maria Caterina Niccolai, from whom, having had no offspring, he adopted Francesco Michelacci, his nephew, a former friar, as his own son, as we have from an instrument dated 28 April 1737 drawn up by Ser Pier Francesco Parigi.

Domenico Michelacci was assigned to the Arte de’ Medici e Speziali, as shown by the following receipt: “On June 21, 1734 Domenico Michelacci paid «to the Arte de’ Medici e Speziali the usual fee of 1.10 lire – (sign it) Filippo Galantini Treasurer»”

After the death of Domenico Sebastiano the art introduced by him, or we want to say perfected and extended for the cultivation of the new seed and for the open trade with foreign countries, was continued by his nephew and adopted son Francesco – as we have an instrument dated April 28, 1737 drawn up by Ser Pier Francesco Parigi – who dealt with it until his death in April 1765, in which time the art proceeded with prosperous success.

Francesco too was employed not only in this Guild, as evidenced by a receipt dated November 3, 1740, but also in that of the Fabbricanti and the other of the Linaioli for the execution of the payment of the respective taxes; and it is confirmed by two separate receipts dated 21 July 1758 and 6 April 1759.

He married Maria Violante di Gaudenzio Bucciolini and had two sons Vincenzo and Domenico.

Vincenzo Michelacci was born in Signa in 1762 and was Professor of Medicine and Surgery and public lecturer of Obstetrics in the Arcispedale of S. Maria Nuova, Obstetrician in the service of the Royal Courts of Tuscany, Lucca, Naples and died in Florence on 8 May 1834.

Domenico Michelacci was master of the clerics of the Basilica of S. Lorenzo, a scholar of great renown for his writings both in prose and in verse; most of which, still unpublished, are kept by his nephew Giuseppe and many of his friends. These writings, carefully collected and arranged, could very usefully be printed. He was a member of the Georgofili Academy and many others, and died in Signa in his father’s house on 10 September 1817, at the age of 59.

Their descendants did not continue the trade undertaken by their authors, because Vincenzo and Domenico, sons of the aforementioned Francesco, one having given themselves over to medicine and surgery, the other to the priesthood and letters, it was for them wholly incompatible to exercise any industrial art, so they let others enjoy the advantages that the art itself was already lavishing.