Florence’s Via Maggio (short for Via Maggiore because it was the main thoroughfare on which the Medici family’s elaborate processions on horse and carriage traveled) is populated with beautiful stores that sell gorgeous restored antiques but that are also rather imposing-looking and seemingly places that only serious art collectors might frequent. About three months ago, though, &CO (And Company) opened at number 47R, and its eclectic and very cool mix of home decor, jewelry, fabulous paper cuts, and many other items all with an artisanal slant is something extremely unique not only to Via Maggio but to the entire city of Florence. What it does share with the other stores on the street is the owners’ appreciation for artisanal techniques, the quality of the objects it sells, and the space itself which has the same perfect, showroom-like quality of its neighbors; the difference is how welcoming and bright the space is—I couldn’t wait to go in the first time I passed by.
The lovely Betty Soldi, who owns &CO together with her husband, Matteo Perduca, is a native Florentine who lived in London for 35 years and worked as a packaging designer there. The store merges her calligraphy and graphic design studio with a collection of objects and furniture that she and her husband find along the way—“or that find us,” she says. She and Matteo see &CO as “a creative space open to collaborations,” and in fact the name “&CO” came about as a result of the couple’s desire to fully integrate the artists and artisans with whom they work into their space.
A perfect example is the current exhibition by Roberto Menchiari that the store is currently hosting—its title is “Roberto Menchiari and Company.” I can only describe the miniature scenes of Florence created by Menchiari as unbelievably perfect. If you see photos of his recreations of the Ponte Vecchio, Piazza Santo Spirito, Borgo San Frediano, and the Palagio di Parte Guelfa, to name just a few, you can’t tell that they are not photographs of the streets and structures themselves. Every last detail, from the wooden slats of shutters to plaster peeling off walls to graffiti covering buildings is reproduced exactly as it is in reality. The miniatures become the city itself.
Words are not really able to adequately describe the incredible minute detail of Menchiari’s creations, which are on display and on sale at &CO until June 2nd. The full effect of the miniatures and the store itself can only be fully appreciated in person, and I highly recommend the experience.
Via Maggio 47R
Open Tuesday through Saturday
10am-1pm and 3pm-6pm