Anne's Blog

Deruta: a Hymn to Maiolica

Date: May 3, 2021 - categories: , , , , , - Leave your thoughts

Deruta, an Umbria small hilltown south of Perugia…..

… a veritable open-air museum peppered with maiolica touches in the piazzas, on the walls of homes, over shop entrances,in the backstreets and even in the public gardens just outside the medieval walls:

Since the Middle Ages, the Umbrian hill town of Deruta has been a major center for the production of glazed pottery,  maiolica in Italy.  When exploring Deruta, you’ll certainly wish to see many of the  t maiolica masterpieces (over 5,000) in the late 19th-century Museo Regionale della Ceramica, the first ceramics museum in Italy, housed in a former 14th-century Franciscan monastery:

After your visit to the museum, stop in at the adjacent Church of St. Francis, to see the medieval frescoes – and the maiolica artisan works here as well:

The church flanks the Piazza dei Consoli and towering over the piazza is the city hall, the 14th-century Palazzo dei Consoli.  

Maiolica greets you in the atrium…. – and also in the Pinacoteca (civici picture gallery) in the same building.

If you call ahead, the mayor will welcome  you in his office upstairs  and note the maiolica along the stairway as you head up:

And as you leave, step out into the “open-air museum”: the town itself.  Wander the backstreets and the piazzas, taking in the maiolica splendor all around: over doorways, on the walls of homes and shops..


You might find the shop displaying the maiolica guitar made by the artisan (who lives upstairs) to Santana when he appeared at Umbria Jazz in Orvieto some years ago (…and I remember that concert):
Do look for the copy of the 16th-century maiolica tiles once adorning a Deruta church (and now in the Museo della Ceramica). They spread out on the wall above a shop door, just under a window:

Hopefully, you saw the original tiles during your museum visit:

As you continue your Deruta explorations, look for the winding alleyway leading out of the main square where maiolica shards written with with adages and words of wisdom are afixed to the walls.  This one advises, “Hope for the best but expect the worst for life is a play.  There’s no rehearsal.”

Another one:  “Don’t walk in front of me, for I might not follow you. Don’t walk behind me for I might not guide you. Walk next to me and be my friend.”

On an alleyway corner, a terrocotta tile reads:  “Children find everything in nothing.  Man (finds) nothing in everything.”

And do keep your eyes up as you walk for maiolica treasures sit on balconies, too:

You’ll certainly need more than one visit to this Umbria gem. Deruta is simply a hymn to maiolica.

Read about the maiolica folk art splendors just outside of Deruta

Click here to read about – and see – maiolica splendors in a Deruta church

Read about the mayor’s welcome to visitors in the citta’ della ceramica

Click here to read about – and see!- the creation of maiolica in a famed Deruta workshop

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Agenzia Viaggi Stoppini in Assisi handles all technical support for my guided visits (bus transportation, organization of meals, etc)