One of my very favorite Umbrian towns is Deruta. Its origins date back to a Roman settlement that evolved, during medieval times, into a town that specialized – and still specializes – in ceramics.
The region’s clay, after all, is ideal for ceramics, and as the medieval years gave way to the great Renaissance, the ceramic artisans of Deruta took things to a whole new level with the production of highly decorated maiolica – a ceramic that is coated with a glass-like glaze, on top of which painted designs are applied.
The avenues of Deruta, in the historic center of the old town, are classically medieval with intersecting alleyways that lead to sweeping views across Umbria. The streets of Deruta’s “new” part of town, in contrast, (situated outside the fortressed walls of the original village) are lined with modern ceramic factories that ship their wares around the world.
Of course I’m smitten with old town and its numerous, skilled artisans who maintain and pass along the original methods and designs for this region’s world-famous, oh-so-gorgeous, maiolica.