Deruta: The City of Ceramic

(Sorry readers, I meant to post this a few days ago)

There’s a town in the province of Umbria, Italy, that is dripping in ceramic. Not just any ceramic, but some of the loveliest, most sought after tiles and pottery in the world. And we were there just a few days ago. It blew our minds.

We entered Deruta by way of a rather expensive taxi we were compelled to take as the buses don’t run on Sundays. It was all well and good, I just got about an hour and a half to practice my Italian and hand gesturing with a taxi driver who knew only a handful of words in English.

We had become almost desensitized at this point to the beauty of Italy’s landscape, which was unfortunate. There are only so many rolling hillsides and hilltop towns you can ponder with genuine interest. However, we watched as we drove along past Perugia and eventually entered Deruta. We noticed immediately as we drove through the town on our way to the Fattoria (Italian for farm, we were staying at an Agritourismo) that this was a remarkable town. Beautiful ceramic in almost every shop. I mean that. Almost every shop was stacked high with beautiful vases, plates, salt and pepper shakers, cups, mugs, and wall tiles.

After checking into the fattoria (which I will describe in due time), we headed back out to the town of Deruta. We hitched a ride with a couple who were just leaving the fattoria to return to their home in Roma. Minutes later we found ourselves wandering through a maze of incredible pottery.

While much of it was prohibitively expensive, Deruta really left a mark on us. We plan to come back here one day, or at least buy a dinner set when we can afford it. The beauty is stunning. So much color, creative, and geometric designs. Plus incredible history behind the pottery.

Even the street signs, store signs, and bricks in ordinary walls were made out of this incredible tile.

Apparently Carlos Santana has used a guitar made out of Deruta pottery. They have it on display along with news articles celebrating the event.

Ceramic in Memoriam

Also interesting was a church we visited. In this church, family members have put up descriptive memorials to dead relatives thanking God for the life of that person as well as depicting the way in which that person died. This memorial is made in the Deruta style. I hope I am not being disrespectful by showing the memorial made by the families of lost relatives (although I’ve found these pictures in other blogs so I think it’s OK). I found it very profound how they incorporate a vivid depiction of the end of the person’s life along with praise to God for the life of the individual, all on the beautiful Deruta tile. Each of the quasi-tombstones features the letters “PGR”, which stands for Per Grazia Ricevuta, meaning thanks for graces received.

It was a harrowing, yet beautiful memorial to the departed.

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