The ARLIS/NA Materials Special Interest Group, the Fashion, Textile, and Costume Special Interest Group, and the International Relations Committee present a study tour of leather, textile, and fashion-related sites within the Italian region of Tuscany, Spring 2017.

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Visits to the sites are followed up daily with classroom-based discussion to ensure synthesis and understanding. Attendees also receive material samples and a list of educational resources. A video will be created for the ARLIS/NA Learning Portal.

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This is an excellent time to visit Europe with the best currency conversion rates in twelve years. Arrange your bookend weekends in Florence where there is no shortage of masterpieces. Join ARLIS/NA in Tuscany!

View details »


The Materials Special Interest Group of the Art Libraries Society of North America, in partnership with the ARLIS/NA Fashion, Textile, and Costume Special Interest Group and the ARLIS/NA International Relations Committee, announce a study tour of leather, textile, and fashion-related sites within the Italian region of Tuscany in Spring 2017.

On the Material Trail: Inside the Culture of 'Made in Italy' is envisioned as a highly immersive program in a location like no other in the world. It is a unique opportunity to gain a behind-the-scenes experience of the industries that craft the luxury products that define the excellence of ‘Made in Italy.’ Designed for librarians, curators, and those interested in and whose subject areas cover these industries, program attendees will have guided access to sites and learn from experts to gain a thorough understanding of Italy’s famous culture of making and design that is both centuries old and contemporary.

On the Material Trail will be based in the town of San Miniato in the heart of Tuscany halfway between Florence and Pisa and is accessible via rail and major airports in those two cities. San Miniato is a site on the Via Francigena, a former pilgrimage route from Canterbury to Rome and now the center of the Tuscan Leather District. Attendees will be welcomed by the Consortium of Vegetable-Tanned Leather, a non-profit association of twenty-two tanneries in the region that promotes the natural beauty and responsible use of this rich material. Our personal guide for this week, Diane Becker has 35 years of experience in Italy: ranging from shoe designer, department chair for Footwear and Accessory Design at Polimoda to trend forecast and brand identity for the luxury leather sector. She is responsible for didactic projects for the Consorzio Vera Pelle and the workshop Craft the Leather.


In addition to the sites, a classroom-based discussion will occur at the end of each day to ensure synthesis and understanding. Attendees will also receive material samples when possible (alas, not from the purification plant!) and a list of educational resources to enrich their subject expertise. Further, a video or similar production will be created for the ARLIS/NA Learning Portal.

SundayOct 16

Arrive in San Miniato (pick-up at train station) for check-in and orientation

MondayOct 17

Tour the area leather tannery (with focus on vegetable tanning) to witness complete processing from raw material to finished supply

TuesdayOct 18

Tour a marble quarry in Carrara, learning how the industry has changed from centuries past to the present in terms of industrial technologies and commercial needs.

WednesdayOct 19

Day-trip to Florence with visit to bespoke leather shoemaker; afternoon free in Florence (material-related museums to be suggested)

ThursdayOct 20

Day-trip to Prato to tour its famous textile industry, both historic and modern, with visits to yarn and textile factories

FridayOct 21

Day-trip to Florence with visit to a foundation specialized in figured silk embroidery and weaving on original 17th century looms and concluding with a fashion-based product developer who specializes in sourcing, prototyping, and working with large fashion houses to develop new products combining heritage artisan techniques with innovative new solutions across material fields

SaturdayOct 22



Registration to open Spring of 2017

Tour Information

  • The tour requires a minimum of 10 attendees with a maximum of 22
  • Tour pricing - attendees will receive a pricing discount when the group reaches 14.
    • 10 to 13 participants = Euro 1,500.00 per person
    • 14 to 16 participants = Euro 1,250.00 per person
    • 17 to 22 participants will result in room sharing and a further price discount

    These figures are subject to minor revision.

The tour price includes:

  • Six nights lodging
  • Breakfast for 6 days
  • Lunch for 4 days
  • Dinner for 6 days
  • Program-related transportation for 5 days
  • Visits & tutor-guide

The tour price does not include

  • flight to Tuscany
  • transfer from airport to San Miniato

As you may know from recent headlines, this is an excellent time to visit Europe with the best currency conversion rates in twelve years. Further, October is one of the best months to visit Italy (following the summer heat and before winter rains begin). Arrange your bookend weekends in Florence where there is no shortage of masterpieces. Whatever your motivations, which are bound to be many, join ARLIS/NA in Tuscany!


$750.00 USD is due at time of registration to hold a place on the accepted list or wait list. Wait list participants not selected for the trip will receive a full refund. You will be invoiced for the remaining amount.

Cancellation Policy

A full refund of the deposit will be refunded for cancellations received before Feburary 2017. Cancellations received on or after February 2017 are not eligible for a refund. Requests for refunds at this time must be made in writing to the group leader, Mark Pompelia, mpompeli@risd.edu.

Flight Arrangements

You are responsible for booking and paying for your own flight to Tuscany. Please note that you should not purchase your ticket(s) until you receive an email from the group leader that the minimum of 10 participants have been reached. ARLIS/NA and the Study Tour organizers are not responsible for travel to and from the Study Tour site and therefore are not able to issue any refunds for travel for any reason.


A Study Tour is a great opportunity to visit colleagues, their collections, and tour relevant cultural institutions while representing ARLIS/NA and your home institution. Past tours include library visits, business meetings, collections presentations, and are often in conjunction with conferences, symposiums, or colloquiums. Applications for ARLIS/NA Study Tours will be accepted for current ARLIS/NA members working or currently seeking employment as arts information professionals. Spouses, partners, or friends of Study Tour participants are welcome to travel with participants, however inclusion in tour activities or special events is at the discretion of the hosts.

An agenda is constructed by the tour leader in conjunction with hosts in the chosen location. All items on the agenda are by formal invitation of the hosts and the following guidelines are recommended for all scheduled activities:

  • Participants are expected to participate in the agenda provided by the host(s) and plan to visit local sites either before or after the Study Tour.
  • Study Tour schedules often begin early in the morning and include multiple visits throughout the entire day. Sometimes meals are included or time is allotted for meals on one’s own. It is important that all participants arrive at designated meeting points on time in order to keep the schedule accurate for all our hosts.
  • As representatives of ARLIS/NA and their institutions, participants should dress in a manner that is appropriate for business and wear shoes comfortable for extensive walking and standing.
  • Please refrain from separating from the group while in transit between tour locations.
  • Our hosts often include their supervising directors, or other VIP administrators, in our meetings and tours. Please be prepared to participate in discussions related to the arts information profession and follow all security rules provided by the host institution when invited to examine collections.
  • Not all items on the agenda will be of interest to everyone in a group, however our hosts will expect the entire group to participate and will plan activities based on our full number.
  • If a participant is unable to attend a scheduled part of the agenda, it is advised that the tour leader be informed before the activity. Participants are also recommended to send a note of regret to the host.
  • Many countries and cultures that we visit are very generous with receptions and souvenir gifts. It is recommended that participants bring business cards, brochures, and/or small hostess gifts that represent their institution. Participants should also plan to send thank you notes or emails after the trip is complete. 
Download Release and Assumption of Risk Form

For more information about the itinerary, travel plans or other questions contact the group leader Mark Pompelia.

Tuscany Study Tour Coordinators

Mark Pompelia
Coordinator, Materials Special Interest Group

Nichole LaMoreaux and Lauren Gavin
Coordinators, Fashion, Textile and Costume Special Interest Group

Deborah Kempe
Chair, International Relations Committee