I thought I would start a series of posts about the things that I loved to do when I was living at Villa Bastiola in Umbria. There’s so many it’s hard to know where to start. Just enjoying the culture, the history, the traditions, the food, the wine… It’s endless. But maybe you didn’t know that Umbria is famous for its beautiful majolica pottery and linen industry…
While I was working at a lovely boutique hotel in Umbria, I couldn’t help noticing the beautiful pottery vases, plates and ornaments around the palazzo and I asked the owner about them. They very kindly took me on a trip down to Deruta, to the factory of Ubaldo Grazia, about 45 mins drive from Villa Bastiola so easily do-able in a day.
Deruta is the heart of the Majolica making area in Umbria and Ubaldo is the most well known of all the factories. If you are lucky enough, you can ask for a tour of the factory and workshops where you will learn to understand why this pottery is so special and the care and attention that goes into each piece. The clay is local and only the highest grade is used to form the moulds and hand-thrown shapes for the pottery. After firing and drying the pottery is transferred to the workshop where it is handpainted – beautiful, intricate designs by exceptional artists.
Once painted, the pottery is dipped in glaze and fired again – it can take up to 6 weeks from start to finish of a piece!
At the end you have a beautiful work of art that you can use and appreciate every day! I have gradually been collecting a coffee set with everything from espresso cups to cappuccino cups, sugar pot, milk jug and plates. It’s expensive but when you see how it is made you can understand why. Don’t fall for cheap, mass produced versions, only these will do!
Ubaldo and his team are charming and will take the time to show you around the factory shop afterwards. If you can’t see a piece you like, you can order it and they will ship. Or you can book another trip to Umbria to collect…
Rumour has it that a certain Mr Clooney ordered a whole dinner service for his Laglio villa from Ubaldo – I saw it with my own eyes 🙂 !!
Combine a stay at Villa Bastiola and take time to visit Deruta, it’s very special.