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Friday, June 27, 2014

Deruta---Nirvana for Pottery Lovers

There are > 200 ceramic workshops in the town of Deruta, Italy---that’s one shop for every 40 citizens living in the Umbrian village of 8,000.  Before even arriving in the city limits of Deruta one recognizes the importance of pottery when a large, colorful sign welcomes visitors to the “Town of Ceramics.”   Once inside the medieval hill-town, however, evidence abounds on why it is one of the most important centers in all of Italy for hand-painted pottery:  streets are lined with factory showrooms which spill their vividly-colored contents onto sidewalks; street signs are hand-painted in flamboyant Deruta patterns;  names of bakeries, cafés and delicatessens are announced in vibrant pottery signage.  Ceramics are the heart-beat of Deruta.

Production of this glorious terracotta began in the early Middle Ages, however, Deruta reached its artistic pinnacle in the 16th century.  Taking inspiration from Renaissance master painters such as Raffaello, Deruta artisans of the 1500’s were considered the best in the country.  To this day, this town’s masterpieces are coveted not only in Italy, but are prized throughout Europe, the U.S., and Asia.  Unfortunately, Deruta has become so renowned that prices have dramatically increased.  It’s not unusual for a coffee mug to cost >$25 in the U.S.

Those who will be coming in June 2015 for the Umbrian villa rental (there are only 2 spaces remaining) will have the opportunity to visit a Deruta workshop that has been owned by the same family for nearly 70 years.  You’ll be able to watch the entire process from the unformed clay, through the shaping process, to the painstaking hand-painting, then through the firing and glazing.  There will be plenty of time allowed for shopping…and most showrooms will ship purchases back home.  Looking for a bargain?  Some shops have a “seconds” rack where one can pick up an item with a small imperfection for considerably less.

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