In Via dello Studio, a stone's throw from Piazza Duomo, there is a place where you can still breathe in the atmosphere of the old Florentine art workshop.
Passers-by peeking through the glass door can see a large room "furnished" with the kind of machinery you might find in any modern craftsman's workshop, such as a milling machine or a mitre saw, but also older manual tools dating back to a few centuries ago, such as stonemason's gradines and an assortment of chisels, marble drills and hammers identical in every way to those used by the artists of the Renaissance.
This laboratory is where the Opera del Duomo Workshop is now located.
It used to be situated in a building just behind the apse of the cathedral. It then moved next door into the building now housing the Historical Museum, where sculptors would work under a huge canopy which has since been removed. In the 18th century the old courtyard was abandoned for the rotunda which can still be seen in Piazza delle Pallottole. And the final move, to its current premises in Via dello Studio, took place some time in the middle of the 19th century.
The workshop's main function used to be to produce the sculptural and architectural decoration required for the cathedral and bell tower, but today it devotes its energies to the maintenance and conservation of the Opera's priceless heritage.