Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Local Ceramics Shop

Just a few kilometers from Il Borgo is a ceramics shop … well, more like a ceramics production facility, or even a ceramics warehouse. Simply put, it's a large building housing many beautiful ceramics, a grand showroom and stations where the artist paint. The driveway was quite difficult to find – there was no sign. Anselmo, the town it is in is not even on most maps. We entered through the garage door. Immediately upon entering, we were in front of large shelves full of every kind of ceramics you can imagine - Large platters, plates and pitchers of every shape, size and design. Whichever pattern you liked, you could get every piece to match – and if you don't see it, just tell them what you would like and they will gladly make it for you. The upstairs showroom features their most requested designs. From up here I could look down on the rear of the storeroom below for a bird’s eye view of endless rows of white and terracotta forms waiting to be put into the hands of the local artists who were sitting quietly in the midst diligently bringing a life of color and design to each three dimensional blank palette.

The art of ceramics dates back almost 1000 years here. This area in the Tuscan hills is known as Montelupo Fiornetino and has been an epicenter for this handicraft peaking during the Renaissance era between the 12th and 15th centuries and still thrives today. Proprietor and gracious host Gabrielle gave us a unique inside look into the process of creating the colorful pieces that grace almost every Italian home from tiles and bowls to giant urns and planters. He pointed out the large vats for glazing and their massive furnace for firing. Many rows of shelving were filled with orders waiting to be shipped to addresses all over the globe – we were at the source. And when we visited the many ceramics stores in the surroundng towns and saw the price differences – we knew we were in on a good secret. And right here in our neighborhood.

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