Monday, June 27, 2011

A Pleasurable Discovery--Montelupo and its Ceramics Fair

      The craftsmen in Montelupo have been producing beautifully handmade and handpainted vases and plates for over eight centuries but it was only yesterday that I managed a visit to the town's annual International Ceramics Fair.  A surprise awaited me upon arrival at Montelupo:  a charming, totally unspoiled Tuscan town a mere 22 minute train ride from Florence on either the Pisa or Siena line.

 The fair was to begin at 6 pm but Elke and I arrived at 5 because a 24 hour regional train strike was scheduled later on.   In the meantime we stopped for a latte macchiato and caffè shakerato (respectively a latte and hot coffee chilled by blending with ice cubes) at Caffè Vezzosi, which has been creating pastries and ice cream on the premises since the 50s.
      Afterwards, we walked down the main street to the Ceramics Museum, which featured display cases of Montelupo ceramics from the 13th to the 16th centuries, with a central exhibit of a contemporary piece by a local ceramics firm.  The visitor can witness the evolution of style and color over the centuries, with simple patterns and the use of a turquoise blue characteristic of the 1300s to a Moorish geometric decoration of the 1500s using green and yellow lead-based pigments.
     Upstairs, there was a temporary exhibition of pottery discovered locally by archeologists.  The signature piece was a 3rd century B.C. Etruscan terra cotta  high relief of a goddess important to that culture.
     Just outside the Ceramics Museum, there were tables set up by craftsmen from all over Italy, predominantly from Tuscany. 

     Walking back towards the station, along the main drag we saw Montelupo artisans working at the wheel and painting ceramics.

        If we didn't have to catch an early train back to Florence, Elke and I would have certainly indulged in aperitivo (Italian happy hour), an unbelievable offer of food accompanied by a glass of wine for 3 euro, or a cocktail for 4 euro.
to be continued.....

1 comment:

  1. How nice to read the first blog post on Beautiful Florence! Montelupo seems lovely, and the fair as well.
    Un abbraccio dalla Svezia!