City of Ceramics

Last June, I received an invitation to visit a family member in Brindisi, Italy. After all the hard work at Clay Ave and private pottery lessons last summer (April-May), I just knew that it was time to have a break and see something new. My sister took some days off from work and decided to explore Southern Italy with me.

Puglia is a region on the heel of Italy’s map. It is bordering the Adriatic sea in the east, and the Ionian sea to the Southeast.  It’s most southern part is the Salento peninsula. I can’t wait to explore this rarely visited part of Italy! Imagine all the beaches surrounding the whole region. The closest one to where I was staying was only fifteen minutes away! I may have missed Philippines’ summer this year, but  I surely had a great time, swimming in Italy’s turquoise-colored beaches.

While in Manila, I started researching online about places, where I could find traditional and contemporary Ceramics. I found Grottaglie, which is only less than hour away from my sister’s home. There’s no way that I am leaving Italy without seeing this! Grottaglie is located in the county of Taranto on the Salento peninsula. It means “many ravines”.

A trip is not complete without visiting pottery studios. This is my kind of entertainment: Seeing their work, hearing their problems and successful stories, exchanging creative tips, etc. It’s always good to learn from others, most especially the  ones who are working in the same industry for over decades now. Whether small or big businesses in making pottery, Potters go through similar struggles and solve the same problems in different ways.

As soon as we enter the Ceramics center of the town, I found a sign that says, “City of Ceramics” with an arrow that led us to this street. It was a very hot day but when I started seeing doors that lead to pottery studios, I knew I was going to see something special. This is a street that is filled with pottery studios, showrooms, and ateliers! Look to as far the eyes could see and find them with their windows and large garage doors open. We parked the car on the parking lot and walked up  here.

On the way up the street, we found this bar and they sell bottled water and gelato! Just what we need for this very hot day! All the doors and windows on this photo are  pottery studios.

The first door on the right where it says, “Lavorazione”,  is where the Potter creates the pots.He also has a shelf filled with bisque ware here. The door that leads to “Esposizione” is the potter’s gallery.

I was so happy seeing these potters at work in their studios during the summer time. They surely know how to clean, paint, and glaze their works in their very organized work space. One studio smells so good with lunch being cooked in the kitchen!

Here’s another studio that holds classes on weekdays. Notice that the wheels are not potter’s wheels but banding wheels. The potter who teaches here, teach sculpture making with terra cotta clay.

Enza Fasano (in black) is one of Italy’s most famous potters. I like her showroom the most. Same-colored pots are together on a table or in a corner of a room. Guests will not be overwhelmed with all the pots that are carefully placed here.  It’s like the pots found their spot in her space and sit perfectly next to its complementing piece. Everything was directed to its right place. Her works are glazed terra cotta pots. Cameras are not allowed in her studio and showroom. You can see more of her works on http://www.enzafasano.it/

We were teasing how “big” we are as female potters and how much physical strength we need to work in our studios. Some women in the world are just really thankful to have bodies like ours : ) We need it and we are very grateful!

It’s very refreshing to see pottery in all white color. Potters from Grottaglie are famous for their very colorful hand-painted pottery. My eyes are fascinated with more simple works in white or other colors with a hint of detail like an unglazed drawing or exposure of clay on some parts.

One Potter makes these for houses. They can be used as house numbers, tiles, coasters, paperweight, etc.

After touring this amazing town of Ceramics, after tasting its version of gelato, after meeting its creative and hard working potters, and after swimming in its sea, I am all inspired once again. To the city of Grottaglie and its people, thank you for being nice, humble, and accommodating. Your town is one of my favorites in Puglia! I hope to see you again someday and explore you even more.

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