In Umbria, the land of a thousand colors, with its mild climate, towns and villages of incomparable charm, saved from the urban gigantism that elsewhere has overwhelmed traditional models of social and culture life, it is still possible for visitors to experience uncontrollable emotions and become aware of all the nuances that over time have made this land dear and precious.
Ancient crafts that are still expressions of local art convey indefinable sensations to us as we browse in shops and local street markets throughout the region, and at the same time they denote the richness of the Umbrian artisan tradition, creating the illusion of being in another day and age.
These products are an indication of the long-term activity of ancient workshops, in the course of which they have preserved styles, ancient techniques and materials, strengthening the artistic tradition of the particular areas in which these activities have their roots.
These production set-ups are part of the historical-cultural heritage of specific Umbrian areas, since it is their products that transfer and make legible all those aspects of local tradition and old technical-stylistic methods that mark the distinction between art handicrafts and quality handicrafts.
The importance of art products (reproductions of decorative motifs, architectural and sculptural products etc.) is undeniable; the recognition of an ‘acquired heritage’ qualifies the product itself and sends us back to the places of ancient production and to the artisan artists who work in such a way as to allow the wealth of each region to emerge in its totality and typicalness.
In parallel, traditional handicrafts, in other words those related to traditional workmanship, are concerned with production quality, both as regards manufacturing processes that comply with regulations and as regards the reference to regional vocations of those manufacturing processes that no longer exist. In the development of artistic and traditional handicrafts, the fundamental role undoubtedly rests with history and tradition; in fact, if on the one hand these are brought out through reproductions, on the other hand they find fertile ground for experimentation that bring together tradition and contemporary research.
Artistic and traditional handicrafts thus become the link between the wealth of works of art, architecture, painting and landscape in the region and the capacity of expression of artisans, in such a way as to bring Umbrian places alive and thus emphasize the local identity of the various productions.
Umbrian handicrafts are so well integrated into the urban fabric of the region’s art towns that the numerous events, such as exhibitions, street markets, historical commemorations of ancient crafts, etc., and the countless workshops scattered throughout the region, help to place even more emphasis on local handicrafts.
We would like to suggest various thematic routes that will allow visitors to discover Umbria’s artisan traditions:
a) Textiles, embroidery, needlepoint and lace
b) Terracotta, ceramics and maiolica
c) Iron and copper
In addition to the traditional manufacture of textiles and objects made of iron, wood and ceramic, there is a also a production of glass, lithography and jewellery of considerable importance; there are countless workshops and shops to visit all over the region.
The Master Goldsmiths of Perugia, Torgiano, Spoleto, Orvieto and Terni have revived the Etruscan technique of granulation.
Three generations of Master Glassmakers, in their 19th-century studio in Perugia, have been resorting to sketches from their historical archive to create glass artifacts that are still fired in the same kilns used in the past, then assembled and fitted with lead came, to make magnificent stained-glass windows.
The ancient burin technique, which is now used in a xylographic studio in Perugia, makes it possible to engrave wood and make a model of it to print the original of a work. However, the best place for art prints is a printing workshop in Citta’ di Castello that dates back to 1799.
ITINERARIES BY AREA
San Giustino, Citta’ di Castello, Montone, Umbertide, Gubbio, Gualdo Tadino
a) Perugia, Corciano, Marsciano, Campignano, Deruta ,Ripabianca, Sant’Angelo di Celle, San Nicolo’ di Celle
b) Assisi, Bettona, Bevagna, Montefalco, Trevi, Collecchio, Santa Lucia in Piaggia, Pigge, Spello, Valtopina, Nocera Umbra, Sellano, Villamagina
a) Ficulle, Allegrona, Castel Viscardo, Orvieto, Todi, Avigliano Umbro, Otricoli, Calvi dell’Umbria
b) Sangemini, Terni, Arrone, Spoleto, Norcia, Preci, Cerreto di Spoleto
LAKE TRASIMENO AREA:
Magione, San Feliciano, Panicale, Piegaro, Citta’ della Pieve, Castiglione del Lago, Sanfatucchio, Panicarola, Tuoro sul Trasimeno, Isola Maggiore
Courtesy of Umbria 2000