I have been a woeful correspondent in these last few days of my Italian trip. I've been distracted by much shopping, eating and admiring of some of Florence's great art. And tomorrow, alas, I wrap up this trip.
But I just had to say a few words about what a fabulous day I had on Thursday, in Deruta (of all places!) I hadn't really planned to visit Deruta, the small Italian city that I believe is one of the great centres of Italian ceramic production. I had a definite plan to shop for ceramics during this trip, but with close to 200 ceramic shops, I feared Deruta itself would be way too intimidating.
However, this day demonstrated yet again that sometimes during travel, the things we don't expect to happen, or that we expect will be awful, actually prove to be quite the reverse.
Fellow Slow Travel blogger Mary T., a creator of the beautiful Genius Loci agriturismo near Bevagna, took me under her wing and we spent a really delightful day in Deruta (now that's a phrase I didn't think I would ever write!)
With Mary's help, I visited a few very good ceramics shops on Deruta's main drag and I found several pieces that I think I'll really enjoy, while shopping at a lovely family-owned shop, Gialletti Giulio. After a tour of the workshop to see just how these pieces are created and carefully hand-crafted, I bought four plates and two bowls that I can use for every day. (Before the trip, I had decided I wanted to find things that I would really use in daily life, I didn't want to buy pieces that I would save for "special occasions" which rarely seem to happen!)
I will post pictures when my small shipment arrives (and I think had better carefully re-read Jerry's Slow Travel postings about his adventures in shipping ceramics!) The pattern I ultimately chose is beautiful but certainly wasn't what I initially had in mind! I also couldn't resist picking up a few other unusual pieces, including several very small bowls for either kitchen prep or serving, and some lovely utensils with hand-painted ceramic handles. These, I'm going to pack and hope for the best!
After shopping, Mary then took me to a great restaurant a few miles from town, L'Antico forziere, where we had a fantastic lunch and the most beautiful dessert I have ever seen. Amazing attention to detail (and I think I'll have to post a photo of this!)
My only regret is that I didn't buy a really beautiful, hand-painted Renaissance display plate, a real work of art, at the final shop we visited in Deruta. I keep thinking about this shop, where Mary knew the Maestro quite well (and she also helped translate for an American couple who were commissioning a special piece.)
I guess this means I must return to Umbria, and soon!