Florence is home to many expats: those who have longed to live here, those who have found love and moved here, and those who have come to Florence and felt immediately at home here. Many people arrive here at a point in their lives when they seek to redefine themselves: whether they were not completely happy, were searching for something new, or were looking for love, it seems that those who come to Florence are reborn. Florence will always be the ‘cradle of the Renaissance’ for the art world, but it also welcomes people of all walks of life who are seeking to follow their hearts.
Born and raised in Alexandria, Virginia, by Greek parents, Zachary Androus imagined that if he were to leave the United States to live in a foreign country, he would go to Greece, not Italy. While studying for his PhD in medical anthropology at the American University in Washington D.C., Zachary went to Padova for an international conference on anthropology where he met Noel, the Italian woman who would become his wife. After maintaining a long-distance relationship for over a year, Zachary moved to Florence, where Noel was working as a full-time anthropologist and completing her dissertation in anthropology.
Zachary has been balancing his artisan career and his academic one for years. Before coming to Florence, even while teaching classes in anthropology and working on his PhD, he still found the time to make jewelry on the side. He has been working in the jewelry business for the last eighteen years, and has been making jewelry since 1997. He even worked for a goldsmith for two years to master the numerous techniques necessary to design and create jewelry. With a small work area in his home, Zachary sold much of the jewelry he made at craft fairs as well as high-end jewelry fairs.
Upon arriving in Florence, Zachary shifted the focus to his artisan career. Now he is a full-time orafo, goldsmith, and a part-time anthropologist. He teaches a variety of social science courses at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Florence, focusing on clothing in non-Western society as well as intercultural communication. Zachary also continues to write articles about medical anthropology and takes his research to conferences around the world.
‘Florence is a great city to be any kind of artisan,’ Zachary says, explaining that Italians not only understand the importance of these creative professions, but that they have a great respect for them as well.
In his workshop in San Niccolò, an artisan center of Florence, Zachary designs jewelry and fabricates custom pieces in silver and gold, sometimes incorporating natural gemstones. As a way of giving back to his art, he teaches jewelry making. He offers specialized and personalized one-on-one courses for people interested in learning the basics of jewelry as well as those wanting to refine their jewelry-making skills. He teaches a three-day course, allowing people to have a taste of jewelry design from beginning to end. Upon completing the course, students will have designed and created a piece of jewelry for themselves.
Zachary enjoys living in Florence, a city that offers him a great quality of life. He believes that being a student of anthropology has helped him to adjust more easily to life in Italy. Because of his extensive knowledge of cultural anthropology, he has integrated himself into society by learning the language and trying all that is Italian, including food, finding it fascinating to try to understand how the locals approach life.
Many people make a choice between two different career paths, but Zachary has been fortunate to be able to balance them both. Even though he still considers himself first and foremost a social scientist, his goldsmith career has certainly taken off since his arrival in Florence.