Sienese ceramics

9 luglio - ceramiche

An ancient Sienese tradition handed down from generation to generation.

While strolling around Siena, passing by Via di Città, don’t forget to stop at number 74, where you will find a historic workshop that upholds one of the most important Sienese handicraft traditions. We are talking about the ceramics that fascinate thousands of visitors from all over the world every year.

Craftsmen began creating the wonderful Sienese ceramics centuries ago for everyday use. These artefacts were used in kitchens and canteens by people from all social classes. As far back as Etruscan times, craftsmen in Tuscany were already creating fine ceramics such as bucchero, (a typical production from the town of Chiusi characterised by thick walls decorated with classic black-grey motifs). Meanwhile, Arretine ceramics are famous for their coral red colour and between the 1st century BC and the 1st century AD they became the most popular tableware pottery throughout the empire.

Siena boasts a long and important tradition in the history of majolica. In 1265, there were already numerous kilns producing so-called ‘archaic’ type pottery, predominantly mugs decorated with plant and animal motifs. In 1510, a stable production of majolica was established, which flourished throughout the century.

Copper green and manganese brown were the hallmarks of majolica ceramics. Sienese maiolica display a distinctive rich palette, a fine design and delicate decorations, which became even more sophisticated from the 15th century onwards.

In Siena today, there is also a tradition linked to the contrade of the Palio and their symbols and colours. To reproduce these images, ceramists must be authorised by the Consorzio per la Tutela del Palio di Siena, a special committee that controls and governs the use of the codes and images of the Palio and the life of the contrade.

As you peak into the small workshop of Ceramiche Santa Caterina, you will find yourself immersed in a world of passion, craftsmanship and creativity. In the words of the owner and artisan Mr Neri, you will witness first hand a Sienese tradition that is as ancient as it is immortal.

Where: Via di Città 74
When: Everyday 10:00 am – 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm


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