On a tour provided by Palazzo Donati, I set out to visit a small ceramic showroom and workshop in Urbania, an Italian town of just over 7,000 inhabitants in the Le Marche region. A center for handmade ceramics since the 15th century, today there are workshops where you can see artists at work and buy high quality handmade ceramic pieces.
Ceramic Art The Ancient Casteldurante (Ceramica d’Arte L’Antica Casteldurante) is known as one of the best places to learn about this rich artisan history and purchase the art.
Entering the shop I am amazed at the beauty surrounding me; plates, bowls, vases, frames, canisters and a large intricately detailed tile painting. Giuliano Smacchi explains many of the pieces are designed after local 15th and 16th century ceramics.
Smacchi and Gilberto Galavotti received their art diplomas in1987 at the Urbino Art institute. Smacchi later received a second diploma at the Fine Arts Academy in scenography. The men also started to learn the technique of majolica (Renaissance earthenware coated with a tin oxide glaze and highly decorated).
At first they produced pieces as scholars, but in 1995 they opened their own shop. The men researched shapes, old decorations and glazes, and revived the art and ceramic history of the area. Each man individually creates smaller pieces and together they work on major projects. The classic period of Casteldurante and Urbino is their hallmark.
After Smacchi explains the history of the art and the business, he invites me to see Galavotti at work.
In a cramped workspace, Galavotti expertly decorates a
vase. I am mesmerized watching his expert touch as he applies blue paint along the neck of the vessel.
Centuries-old Urbania ceramic pieces are displayed in museums all over the world. Fortunate for today’s collector, Galavotti and Smacchi are making new treasures by using traditional methods; creating new designs as well as resurrecting the area’s historic patterns.
I stay a long time watching Galavotti work before making a purchase and heading back to Palzzo Donati in nearby Mercatello sul Metauro for more Renaissance adventure!
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