Monday, June 8, 2015


Last year we went to Deruta to buy plates, something we have wanted to do for a long time since James and I are both smitten with hand painted Italian ceramics. The town of Deruta is not terribly distant from Panicale and a drive through the landscape of Umbria is reason enough to make the journey.

We often visit Orvieto a remarkable town built high on tufa. Orvieto boasts of one of Italy's finest cathedrals with a chapel painted by Luca Signorelli that is spectacular and daunting in it's apoctolyptic imagery.


Our plan on this day was to bypass Orvieto and head to Todi, a city that sits above the Tiber in an area of Umbria we had yet to visit.

The Piazza del Popolo, we are told, has been the setting for several movies. I cannot verify that bit of trivia, but the piazza  is uniquely  beautiful, and yes, the sky truly was that blue.

 Sempre salire, in Italy there are  always steps to climb, here they lead up to the Duomo. The Duomo is simple in comparison to many churches we have seen, but the beauty lies in the geometry of the architecture and details like those of the columns. As is often the case, this gothic church is built over the remains of an ancient Roman temple.

First, the Etruscans built a wall around the place we know as Todi, then came the Romans who with their masonry skills also built a wall and if that was not enough protection from invaders there is the most recent Medieval wall.
It was a rather hot day, so after walking around and up and down we needed something to eat, and besides we were hoping to get in to the 7th Century Church of San Fortunato. There is a fresco by Panicale home boy, Masolino di Panicale that we wanted to see.

We did find an enoteca right beside the church, alongside the steps, where we could have some lunch as we waited for the church doors to open. The lovely, shady spot is called Vineria San Fortunato.  A board of local cheese and salumi was perfect served with a local  chilled white wine. James saw something on the menu he could not resist trying, fried rabbit.
When it was brought to our table James said to the server,"Come (like) Kentucky Fried Chicken!"
She replied, "K.F.C., si!"

Well, the church never did open, there is always next time.


On our last visit to Deruta we purchased four dinner plates and four pasta bowls, but that is a problem when there are six people for dinner so to remedy that we bought two more of each.
So now.....what if there are eight for dinner? We will consider that another time.

There are several ceramic / maiolica makers in Deruta with our first stop at Sberna where we purchased our dinner ware.
I coveted this soup tureen, and if I bought it I would be making soup all of the time just to have it out on the table, but I left it there on the shop shelf for now.

Across the street there was another shop that we wanted to visit.....

Ubaldo Grazia Maioliche

After looking through the shop and resisting a serving bowl and platter, we began talking to one of the woman that works here. During our conversation we mentioned that we were artists as we commented on the quality of the painting on the majoliche.....we were led upstairs to the workshop.

This is work for someone with a good brush held by a very steady hand.

All of the pieces are first glazed white with the design the 'pounced' on with tiny dots.

James was interested in the application of the color and as he found out the colors change during the firing so the artist must understand the color being painted on is not necessarily the color when it come s from the kiln. We were delighted to be invited into the workshop to see this traditional art of hand painted ceramics being continued.

This shop also produces a line of contemporary designs. I believe that James could create a unique pattern using the fruits and flowers of his still life paintings.

The antique pieces at this shop are exceptionally interesting and they have a good collection with some of the shapes and designs still made in this workshop. This  family workshop has been producing majoliche  in Deruta since 1500. The terra-cotta clay that is used used is from Umbria and the formulas for the glazes have been passed down through generations of potters and painters.

Clouds are rolling in over Umbria for a late afternoon rain, maybe a few thunder storms at the end of a clear, hot and perfectly ideal day here in Italy.