Artisan Quarter: Meet Renato Olivastri

Timber art and antique furniture restoration

Kris Garland
May 20, 2021 - 10:11

The Artisan Quarter Association was founded to raise awareness of the deteriorating situation in the Oltrarno and to privately fund our support efforts through donations. Our membership is comprised of local craftspeople who are the mainstay of this historic district of Florence. 


In speaking with our members, those who relied mainly on foot traffic had the most difficult obstacles to overcome in order to remain solvent during 2020/21. We also learned that several of our members were making ends meet via other channels. Within the limits of pandemic rules, several artisans were able to conduct one-on-one coursework with students, a few have online stores; commissions such as antique restoration, collaborative efforts with other artisans and existing trade relationships have all been augmentative revenue streams. 



Renato Olivastri in his workshop on via dei Velluti




A great example is Renato Olivastri, who specializes in timber art and antique furniture restoration. Renato began his work at the age of 14 as an apprentice making custom furniture and later studied at Istituto per l’Arte e il Restauro - Palazzo Spinelli. In 1988, he established his bottega, Olivastri Restauri Firenze, and in 2016 the Florence Chamber of Commerce bestowed upon him the title of Master Craftsman, a mark of distinction among his peers. 




Renato instructs a pupil in marquetry (wooden inlay)



In his workshop at via dei Velluti 21R, Renato teaches restoration and inlay techniques to students from around the world. Traditional techniques of marquetry (wooden inlay) and restoration are meticulously handed down from master to pupil. Courses are tailored to what each student is aiming to achieve.



Inlay panel of Ponte Vecchio, using 6mm natural veneer. Every piece is handcut one by one.



As an association founded to help our members, we recognize an opportunity to bring a multitude of creative ideas to life. Whether you are looking to commission a piece, collaborate with an artisan or learn the techniques of the masters, we will offer the opportunity to work directly with a skilled artisan. Our page on Courses, Commissions and Collaborations will be live in the next few weeks. Inquiries can be directed to [email protected]



You can see Renato’s work at or on Instagram @olivastrirestauri.





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