Ceramic city is the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy, there’s a city of art named Faenza, known around the world as ‘faience’, or the artfully crafted ceramics called majolica.
Faenza is situated on Via Emilia, between the sea and hills, half way between Bologna (50 km) and Rimini (65 Km) and at the intersection of the road that links Ravenna (32 Km) to Florence (100 km).
Faenza, at the foot of the first Subapennine hills, is surrounded by an agricultural region including vineyards in the hills, and cultivated land with traces of the ancient Roman land-division system, and fertile market gardens in the plains. In the nearby green valleys of the rivers Samoggia and Lamone there are great number of 18th and 19th century stately homes, set in extensive grounds or preceded by long cypress-lined driveways.
The city hall of Faenza lists over 70 officially recognized ceramic centres which are busy producing top quality decorated majolica.
What exactly distinguishes Faenza majolica? – “In Faenza, we paint art on vases, plates and tiles, by hand, in the traditional way.
1. Majolica, a type of tin-glazed pottery made in Italy – How it is created ?
Clay, the raw material, abounds locally. When mixed with water, it can be molded into any desired from on the turning wheel, Next, it is put into an oven at 980 degree Celsius. Once it cools, it is immersed into an emulsion containing the chemical, tin, which will produce the classic white surface. When dry, the desired decoration is painted onto it. It is then returned to the oven, this time at 920 degree Celsius. After it cool we have the glazed majolica artwork.
Artistic hand-made ceramic production is the lifeline of Faenza, generating good revenue for each artisan, each year. However, Faenza is not only place producing ceramics the tradition way. There are some 2700 firms, spread across 30 towns, all over Italy, doing the same. In the Emilia-Romagna region, they’re a little bigger, with each centre running with twice as many artisans. There’s much variety too-each town draws a motifs. What’s made in Faenza will be different from the pottery produced in Florence, Naples, the Ligurian town of Albissola Superiore, Lodi in Lombardy, Deruta in Umbria or Sicily, for instance.
Majolica reached Italy in the medieval times. The name majolica came from the Spanish island of Majorca, which was a port where ships from Spain carrying ceramics made by moors stopped over. Very little modern technology goes into making Faenza majolica….the potters use electric power to trun the wheel, but the rest is still hand-made. In the year 1115 Tuscans conquere Majorca and took the Moorish majolica to Italy, to the homes of aristocrats. The earliest majolica made by Italian masters, dating back to early 14th century were imitations of Moorish styles. During the 2nd century AD, Faenza was already producing ceramics and the local artisans were among the first ones to masters the majolica technique. They carefully chose, filter and blended the clay, aiming at whiter tones as well as experimenting with glazing methods for best results. In the 16th century, it began to be associated with delicate floral designs, landscapes and human figures masterfully depicted on a pure white background.
Towards the end of 19th century, after six centuries of success, the art of Faenza majolica began to decline. Many workshops closed down. Ceramic maker, Gaetano Ballardini stepped in, united the artisans to collectively resists the ceramic crisis and artisans to collectively resist the ceramic crisis in 1908, he opened a museum proudly displaying the best of Faenza from middle ages onwards. The museum catalysed the rebirth of this centuries-old artistic tradition.
3. HALLMARK OF FAENZA MAJOLICA MOTIFS
The earliest motifs were known as Raphael style-with nudes, angels, serene portraits, vine levels, flowers and landscapes. Just as old were the compendiario, a simple style with a central human or angel figure circled by a floral chain, with a lot of empty white space remaining. The Persian palm, peacock feathers and animal motifs were also common, dating back to 16th century. We now use electric power to turn the wheel, but the rest is still hand-made. The decorations are also traditional motifs. However, if a client is interested in something special, computers are used to select the shapes, motifs at the planning stage and present the final product perhaps. Lately some of us have begun printing company logos or any other personalization required onto the majolica using computer technology, but all the decoration is still done the hard way, by hand.
4. Wines of Faenza
The tradition of wine making near Faenza is as old as the town itself.You should include wine tasting among your activities when you visit Faenza. Among white wines we have Chardonnay, Pignoletto, Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon and Trebbiano of Romagna while among the red wines are the Cabernet Sauvignon, Ancellotta, Ciliegiolo, Merlot and Sangiovese.
5. Other Places to See Near FAENZA
Along the east side of Piazza della Libertà is Faenza Cathedral. Influenced by Tuscan style, it is one of the highest expressions of Renaissance art in Romagna. Built to Giuliano da Maiano’s design, it was begun in 1474 and completed in 1511. The interior, houses numerous works of Renaissance art, chiefly sculpture. Near the cathedral is the beautiful Portico of Lords, built in the early 16th century and facing a fountain by Domenico Paganelli (1545-1624) and Domenico Castelli (1582-1657). The Clock Tower is also extraordinary – the original construction dates back to the 16th Century, although it was rebuilt after World War II.
Old town centre in Faenza. Follow the so-called ‘Voltone of the Molinella’, built in the Manfredi period, to reach Molinella Square. One of the highlights in Faenza, the famous ‘Galleria dei Cento Pacifici’, an extraordinary work by Giuseppe Pistocchi (1785) with decorations by Serafino Barozzi (1735-1810) and numerous statues by Antonio Trentanove (1745-1812) visible in the niches, is in this square.
The International Museum of Ceramics in Faenza
The museum has many different Collections
The exhibition, The Italian ceramic sculpture after the Second World War.
Ceramic floors and coverings between West and East from the Middle Ages to the Contemporary Age.
Far East : China, Japan, South-East Asia
For more information on the museum, please visit the Site
How to Reach Faenza
Following is the list of airports around Faenza.
18km to (FRL) Forli
55km to (BLQ) Bologna
65km to (RMI) Rimini
76km to (FLR) Firenze
93km to () Loreo
123km to () Pontedera
137km to (TQR) San Domino Island
137km to (PSA) Pisa – Galileo Galilei
139km to (AOI) Ancona
We have also provided a Google map for ypur use