My ceramics have arrived from Umbria and I'm very, very happy with them!
I bought these dishes in Deruta about two months ago, at a wonderful shop that I visited with fellow blogger and art expert Mary T. (Reflections on My 39 Years in Umbria.)
I chose the patterns that I liked, placed my order and waited. Each piece had to be specially made because, of course, I had fallen for patterns that I found in large bowls and chargers, but that were not available in the shapes and sizes I wanted. But no matter -- Gialletti Giulio Ceramiche custom makes what you want and ships it.
Mary very, very kindly kept me informed as to their progress, checking in with the workshop often. She even helped me expand my order, because as soon as I returned to Canada, I realized that it really was silly to order four plates and only two bowls (how awkward!) Shipping is almost a flat rate, so extra dishes wouldn't cost any more to ship in the same order, but certainly would if I ordered them later. There were a few delays, apparently some items had broken coming out of the kiln and so on. But I didn't mind; I had fully expected even longer delays.
And they were worth the wait! These pieces -- and other ceramics that I've admired -- are so beautiful, so evocative of Umbria.
I'm a bit surprised at my newfound interest in owning these -- and more --ceramics. I'm not that much of a shopper, I'm not really acquisitive. I hoard my books and DVDs, but am still eating off ironware dishes that I'm sure I bought at a Hudson's Bay Store in the early 1980s (you can't break those damned things.)
In fact, that's what first made me think about buying some Italian ceramic dishware. I had come to realize just how old and ugly my dishes are, and further realized that rather than buying something domestic, I would get far, far more enjoyment from eating my breakfast cereal or weekend bagel from a beautiful, hand-painted work of art I had selected in Italy. Indeed, THAT would really be bringing a bit of Italy into my home and day-to-day life!
Initially, I was a bit shocked at the prices -- especially once shipping is added in -- but once I bought these pieces, I didn't look back. In fact, I'm looking ahead to buying more!
And I have such warm memories of the lovely day I spent shopping in Deruta with Mary, who owns the gorgeous agriturismo Genius Loci near Bevagna. Having lived in the area for almost 40 years, Mary knows what she's doing and has a wonderful eye for art and beauty. Mary drove me around Deruta, which is one of the great centres of ceramics production in Italy, and we visited several shops. I fell in love with the colours and patterns in the lovely family-owned Gialletti Giulio.
After a tour of their family's workshop to see just how these pieces are carefully hand-crafted and painted, I bought four plates and two bowls as well as some smaller pieces including 3 small bowls for kitchen prep or appetizers and some lovely utensils with hand-painted ceramic handles. (One set of serving spoons I parted with as a gift for a friend who loves to cook.)
The smaller pieces I chose are painted with the lemons and fruit decorations which I love, and that I thought I would also want in my tableware. Yet the two patterns I ultimately chose are very different from that, very geometric with an emphasis on blue and yellow colours and a bit of a red accent. As complex as these patterns are, I sense that they will actually make it easier to mix and match with other tableware in future, so long as new pieces have similar styles of design and colour.
I felt so drawn to these geometric patterns, but I haven't really researched their origins. I believe the fruit patterns are more traditional in Tuscany, but I definitely need to learn more.
After shopping, Mary took me to a great restaurant a few miles from Deruta, L'Antico forziere, where we had a fantastic lunch. It really was a memorable day. My only regret is that I didn't buy a really beautiful, hand-painted Renaissance display plate, a real work of art, which are produced at the final shop we visited in Deruta. I may yet prevail upon Mary's kindness (she has been so generous with her time) and ask for her help in ordering one.
I don't want to be greedy. But these pieces are so beautiful, I guess this means I must return to Umbria, and soon!