In the Basilica of S. Maria degli Angeli of La Verna Sanctuary, on the ceiling, there is a medallion showing the Wool Guild’s coat of arms. In the 15th century, the Medici gave the Florentine guild of wool workers the task of protecting the friars and their friary. A wool factory was soon opened in La Verna which produced woollen clothes for all the Franciscan area. Casentino cloth was first created in these hills and is now used in high fashion.
In fact, the Franciscan cloth, produced in the following colours ‘fratino’, ‘bigio’ and ‘topo’, became sought after soon after its creation across the territory. It was particularly appreciated for its resistance to wear and tear. It was very rough because the Florentine wool workers forced the friars and all the wool factories in the valley to use only ordinary wools in order to avoid any kind of competition. In the nineteenth century Casentino cloth was used as a cover for animals.
This humble use allowed for several experiments. In order to make it more water-proof, the manufacturers used then unknown tinctures. In doing so and quite by mistake, they created the orange tincture that still characterizes Casentino cloth today. The first coats were worn by carters who noticed the use of the fabric and took it from their animals to wear it themselves. It slowly became fashionable and met the approval of women who wanted it in the green version as well (up to that time green had only been used for linings).
Today, Casentino cloth is an elegant fabric available in a variety of colours, although brown, orange and green are the most sought after. This sector is still the most important industry in the valley today, particularly in Soci and Stia.