If Lewis Caroll needed inspiration for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, he surely would have spent time in the Florentine atelier of Aprosio. The shop is a sparkling space filled with crouching creatures, insects about to take flight, flora, reptiles, and a sprinkling of hearts … all fashioned of Bohemian crystal and Murano glass beads.

Aprosio is always on my list of priorities when I am in Florence. Transported not only physically, but sensually, one goes from from the cobblestone alley with its zipping vespas to a space of quiet calm and wondrous imagination. Ornella Aprosio, the talented artisan who is behind the brand, is involved at every step of production… from boarding a boat to cross the Venetian lagoon for micro glass beads (known as “conteria”) to overseeing her team of artisans who form the works of wearable art. As well, she is often found in the shop helping her clientele select pieces.

A Roman, her earliest years were focused on the repair and alteration of vintage clothing, specifically of the 20s and 40s. This period in fashion often celebrated textiles embellished with beads which which sparked her interest in the medium. She eventually relocated to Florence where her passion turned into a thriving business that now reaches as far as Asia and the United States. 

Ornella’s designs are made by hand and therefore have variations that make every piece unique. The three dimensional quality of the more complex pieces and the depth achieved with the different methods of production — crochet, knitting, needlepoint, woven into fabric and also threaded yarn with beads — combined with different shapes and colors of beads attests to her expertise. Her designs range from classic shapes to the more extravagant statement pieces that can take weeks to create. The spider’s web, celebrated for its perfection of design and an Italian symbol of fortune and gain, was integrated in Aprosio’s logo and also underscores her consistent interest in nature as an influence in her work.

Best selling pieces are the simple soft bracelet — very wearable — available in a kaleidoscope of colors, a classic knot necklace and sphere earrings. All excellent choices but why go safe? I’d spring for one of the more outrageous pieces encrusted with beaded shells or festooned with beaded cherries.

Aprosio & Co., S.a.s.

Via della Spada 38r,

50123 Firenze

Tel. 055/29034