On 20 December 2014 at the Salablù of the Boncompagno da Signa Cultural Center, the Celebratory Stamp belonging to the thematic series “The Excellencies of the productive and economic system dedicated to the straw industry of Florence” was presented
The issue of the 800,000 copies of the 80 cents stamp “Industria della straw di Firenze” took place last November 29, on the initiative of the President of the Museo della Paglia e dell’Intreccio D. Michelacci a Signa Angelita Benelli who, together with the Councilor for Culture Giampiero Fossi proposed to the Minister of Economic Development the issue of a commemorative stamp on the occasion of the “Tricentenary of the birth of the Florence straw industry 1714/1718 – 2014/2018”.
The good reception of the request by the Ministry materialized with the issue of the commemorative stamp dedicated to the straw industry of Florence, considered among the excellences of the national productive and economic system.
The art of weaving has ancient origins and the figurative memories of straw objects of all kinds, in particular headgear, are innumerable.
The commercialization of straw in the province of Florence is documented as early as 1341, while the attestation of the hatters as belonging to a specific production category dates back to 1574.
In the 17th century the boatmen of Ponte a Signa who transported goods on the Arno between Pisa and Florence wore woven straw hats. It must have been common wheat straw, obtained after threshing, rough and with some imperfections, but ennobled by the accuracy and ingenuity of the workmanship.
Until the beginning of the eighteenth century, in fact, no material was found that was more suitable for braiding and with better quality characteristics than the red gentle wheat that “has fruited”, i.e. that has already produced the seed.
Domenico Michelacci, who moved to Signa from Romagna in 1714, after four years of experimental trials managed to cultivate a selected type of wheat on these hills which, thanks also to the characteristics of the land typical of the areas between Signa and Lastra a Signa and through a revolutionary system of sowing and harvesting developed by him for the first time, he managed to produce an extremely fine and shiny straw, suitable for weaving, also setting up a laboratory for the manufacture of hats mostly intended to be sold abroad.
So we can say that 1714 is the year that gave way to the birth of an industry that is still thriving and that represents the first product exported all over the world, the forerunner of Made in Italy. The straw hats produced in the Florentine area were already called Chapeaux de paille d’Italy in 1851, to identify our country even before its constitution as a unitary state.
The story of the straw hat made in the Florentine area, which began 300 years ago, has never ended. In fact, important high quality industries and artisan workshops are still present and active in the Piana, producing prestigious products intended to feed the prêt à porter and haute couture industry.