Holiday With Clay!

A decade ago, a starting Potter in Manila saw an ad about La Meridiana in Tuscany on Ceramics Monthly magazine. Subscribing to magazines that feature Ceramics, helps us Potters, see where other artists work, live, and teach workshops on clay: Jewelry, Sculpture, Functional pots, etc. Photos are very crucial when advertising one’s business. La Meridiana surely used a very appealing photo with a link to their website. When internet connection was non-wifi ten years ago, and all you have is a dial-up service, you wait pretty long as websites load their content very slowly. During that time, speed was not very important in sending and receiving data. With all the Potter’s anticipation, the page is finally loaded after smoking several sticks of cigarettes. Yes, it was that slow. As the reader starts reading information about the school, she says to herself, “One day, I will see this place. I just know I will!”

A decade later, this Potter’s dream came true. This dreamer is no other than yours truly : ) Each year, I would check La Meridiana’s website, to see what they are teaching and who are teaching the workshops. Potters and Ceramic Artists from around the world, come to this pottery haven in the beautiful town of Certaldo in Tuscany. Some artists come to learn, and some come to have a holiday and learn something with clay at the same time. I experienced the second option. Workshops are held all throughout the year by renowned clay artists from around the world. I have not met any potter who does not know, or have not heard or read about this place at all.

After exploring the region of Puglia with my sister, a trip to Tuscany was part of my itinerary. There’s no way I will miss, seeing this Ceramics international school in Italy! I knew I would miss working with clay and true enough, just when the plane from Brindisi took off, I knew I was going to experience one of the best times of my life! I took the plane to Pisa and ride the train to Certaldo, a town which is only an hour away from Florence.

The infrastructure looks so much different from the southern part of Italy. I was seeing this from the plane before landing on Pisa. There was more land and I could see more “masseria” or old farm houses. Oh yes! I have finally arrived in Tuscany!

From Manila, I was already sending and receiving e-mails from one of La Meridiana’s hard-working staff, Alessia. I have enrolled myself to what used to be a dream of mine a decade ago. With high speed internet in Manila today and no cigarettes to puff while waiting for websites to load on my laptop’s screen, I am thankful that I was able to reserve a slot for a class in July. The workshop I chose is Jewelry in Porcelain with one of Europe’s Ceramics and Jewelry Designer, Luca Tripaldi.

As soon as I arrived in Certaldo, I went straight to the parking lot, where the staff from La Meridiana, will wait for the participants. I saw a very familiar face. Yes, I am sure. Curly hair, those eyes, and that smile – Yes! It’s Pietro Elia Maddalena! The founder of Italy’s most important private Ceramics school! I didn’t realize that all of the other participants were in the same train. We were scheduled to meet at the train station at 6PM. We all got there on time, except for Rita from Portugal, who came just right in time for dinner. Pietro comes to me as I smile and say hi to him. The first question he asked me was, “Where are you from?” I answered, “From Manila, Philippines!” Pietro scratches his head and said, “Oh no! A big responsibility! You must be mad coming all the way here!” I laughed so hard and replied, “Oh don’t worry about me at all! And yes, I am mad, to come all the way here from The Philippines! I’ve waited ten years to be here!” Pietro might be wondering why I said this, but he knows now, how this dream started a decade ago.

It takes about fifteen minutes to get to the school from the train station. Participants I’ve spent time with are from different parts of the world: Italy, France, Portugal, Turkey, India, America, Canada, Hungary, and Greece. We are all looking very happy and excited! Some of them have gone to La Meridiana years ago. It’s really a place to go back to! You will know why as I add more photos in the coming posts about this trip.

You can follow this blog by starting from reading, “City of Ceramics”. A pottery haven located in Grottaglie, a county in Taranto on Southern Italy. Click the link to read more.

You’re about to see one of the world’s best destinations for a holiday with clay! Stay tuned!

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