The Florence FilesMantellina - shoulder cape of Florence  
Recreating 16th Century Florentine and Tuscan  Clothing and Lifestyle

Florence Files

Though there is little or no pictorial evidence 1500-1560 of Florentine women wearing cloaks or capes, Elenora's Gardaroba does document that she wore many types of outdoor clothing. These included 12 short cloaks, 12 long cloaks, 25 capes and 5 waterproof felt capes, 6 Dutch cloaks. (La Mode a Fiorenze, p 149). There is record of several mantei made of wool or satin, commonly red or crimon, slashed, braid edged, fringes and gold cords. (p150)
Ironically, the mantle that was the well documented and most commonly worn form of cloak worn by Florentine women (to cover up), Eleanora owned only one! 

The mantellina was a short cloak, often described as a cape for the shoulders or neck. It was apparently similar to the 'gollar' worn by German women. Its main function was warmth. It could be worn underneath or on top of longer cloaks.   La Mode a Fiorenze  also surmises that the mantellina was worn in bed or in the home for protection against the cold.

Materials used for the mantellina were: wool, velvet or satin or ermesino (tafetta). Prescious silks were usually preferred. The mantellina was usually lined wtih ermine. The colour red was common, as was gold embroidery and hungarian style frogs for closures.

Some pictorial examples of mantellina from other parts of Italy are:

Jan Interior scene by Cristofano Rustici Palais (Public  Musee civique, Sienna) 

Portrait of Laura da Pola  by Lorenzo Lotto, 1544
Vincenzo Catena's Portrait of a Woman, 1520-25. (Venice)
Bernadino Licinio's Portrait of a Lady, 1520s.
The first is from Sienna (NB: Eleanora was duchess of Sienna also.) Though not a proper mantellina, the first example is not consistent with the georgeri (partlet) which was tucked inside the dress at  the time. It is possibly an example of a working class mantellina used at home.  The next three examples are from elsewhere in Italy, but showing forms of mantellina that could be worn for warmth.

Capotti = dutch cloaks
mantei = garments of certain size, structured (not loose) worn on the shoulders.

manteo = long cloak, circular or semi circular
mantellina = short cape for the neck or shoulder.




  • Kohler, Carl, A History of Costume, Dover Publications, NY,1963, ISBN: 486-21030-8
  • Konig, Eberhard, Masters of Italian Art: Carravaggio, Konemann, Cologne, 1998,ISBN: 3-8290-0243-2
  • Willet, C. & Cunnington, Phillis, The History of Underclothes, Dover Publications, NY, 1992, ISBN: 0-486-27124-2
  • Fossi, Gloria, Uffizi Gallery: The Official Guide all of the works, Firenze Musei, Giunti, Florence, 2000 ISBN: 88-09-01487-1
  • Thorton, Peter. The Italian Renaissance Interior 1400-1600. Harry N. Adams INc, NY. 1991. ISBN: 0-8109-3459-0
  • (Life in Tudor age)**

Web Sites:
Some Images from:

  • Festive Attyre: Gallery.'s Gallery.
  • Web Gallery of Art:
  • Orazio Centaro Art Images on the Web:
  • National Gallery, London.
  • ACADEMY CARRARA Bergamo- The Other Venice.
  • www.kressfoundation dot org
  • web Gallery:
© K Carlisle. 2006-2008

All intellectual content, original photos and layout are copyright to La Signora Onorata Katerina da Brescia (K Carlisle), except those original renaissance artworks and extant articles whose copyright remains with the current owner.
If you would like to use something from this site, please contact me, and cite this website reference.

(c). K.Carlisle, 2008.