As with many botteghe in the Oltrarno, B&C is a business that has its roots in family. I recently sat down with Stefano Chiti in his bottega on via Toscanella. Upon entering, one marvels at the breadth of ornate and elegant light fixtures that line the walls and hang from the ceiling. Multi-faceted star-shaped pendants shine alongside beautiful Florentine-styled wall sconces. Workbenches with machines and cabinets as well as countless parts and tools can be seen all around.
Chiti’s demeanor reflects calm and thoughtfulness. Originally from Sondrio, he moved with his family to Florence in 1964. “My father was originally from Florence, so I can credit my creativity to my Florentine roots,” said Stefano. In 1977, he joined his future father- and brother-in-law, Lorenzo and Fabrizio Borgheresi, in their shop, which was located on sdrucciolo dei Pitti at the time.
Lorenzo was a stagnino, or tinsmith, who originally found his work repairing the tin lining of copper pots during and after World War II. Tin was a challenging commodity to obtain after the war, so they recycled food cans. Stefano explains: “Lorenzo was very creative, and lining pots and pans is not so interesting. He knew he could do a lot more with tin.” And so, Lorenzo started to experiment. Tin is significant because it is a soft metal, which is versatile and easy to work with. Lorenzo began making decorative light fixtures. Post-war, glass was costly, so his first creations were without. He continued to innovate and his work became more elaborate. In time, he was able to add beveled glass to his fixtures and they gained popularity among Florentines.
Today, private clients, architects and designers from all over the world are drawn to the creations of B&C. One big break came in the 1980s, when a visiting Briton with an international business discovered their bottega and brokered a deal to feature B&C lamps in his stores worldwide. Business has been solid ever since. The pandemic gave Stefano the time to catch up on his backlog of orders. Much of his clientele are repeat customers and have shown their loyalty over the decades.
Lorenzo never fully retired and enjoyed his work to the end. Stefano now runs the shop solo and intends to follow Lorenzo’s example: slow down, but don’t stop. In a few years, he will begin enjoying his retirement at his daughter’s agriturismo outside of Florence. So, if you want the marvelous experience that is B&C of the Oltrarno, start planning now!
Via Toscanella 26R
+39 333 2393681