Tucked into the ground floor of a grand palazzo is a traditional bottega (workshop). Through the gleaming glass shop front with Il Torchio engraved on the glass is a book and paper-lovers paradise waiting to be discovered. Sitting amongst antique wooden cabinets is shelving lined with leather-bound books and delicate paper products hang loosely over rails all hand made creating colourful marble effects using traditions spanning hundreds of years. Il Torchio is one of those unique Florence finds in a city with a rich history in creative traditions, a place where old techniques are still appreciated and used today. Here is a space half shop, half studio; an old heavy press sits in the center of the store while the main counter table has a cluster of works-in-progress by artisan Erin Ciulla.

Erin first arrived in Florence in 2005 as a Postgraduate student from Ontario College of Art & Design. During her year abroad programme, she focused on bookbinding, immersing herself in the traditional techniques and to master her craft under the tutorage of Anna Anichini, the owner and maestro of Il Torchio. Returning to Canada after a year, Erin felt life back home was "lacking" so in January 2007 she returned to Florence, and to Il Torchio, to fulfil her creative passion.  When Anna retired the following year, Erin took over the store, which has been at this location since 1980. Today you'll find her working six days a week producing beautiful notebooks and paper plus bespoke items too. Erin can engrave personal notes for that special gift or creative something unique for a brand. Her piano notebooks are a favourite, with pencil used to hoist up the "piano" lid. A recent one-off commission saw Erin make a book cover with orange rind making for a truly unique experiment item.

Photo credit: Beatrice Mancini