Deruta, paint the town

Umbria is famous for its green hills, cured meats, the town of Assisi, and most of all, its hand-painted pottery.  Today we took a 20-minute drive to Deruta, the epicenter of this ceramic tradition.

We arrived with the intention of outfitting our new apartment with a set of dinner plates, but the choices overwhelmed us.  There were more than 100 small shops in the center of town and an equal number of ceramic studios on the outskirts, each one owned by an artist or family of artists.  We browsed from one place to another admiring the intricate designs and beautiful patterns.  Then, just as the boys were wearing out, Tom spotted a platter he just HAD to have.  Unfortunately, it had been commissioned for the president of the NFL and was not for sale.

Just right for a helping of spaghetti

We found another shop that our friend Kris Frossmo recommended.  Upon entering, we were wildly greeted by Fernando, the proprietor.  He stood up and embraced Tom and me then offered discounts on everything.  We told him that Kris had bought some plates here years ago and suggested we visit, at which point Fernando gave me a big smooch on the lips.  After I pulled away, he announced that he had another for my friend Kris.  It was strange and awkward and a little juicy.  We took pictures of some of our favorite pieces, but in the end, couldn’t make a decision.  We decided to return to Deruta next week.

On the way out of town we stopped at a super cute restaurant and encountered a couple mishaps.  First, Ray got himself stuck in the bathroom for a while.  We were talking to the owner and didn’t notice how long he had been gone.  He returned to our table in tears telling us what happened.  He explained that he finally got out after yelling, “Mi aiuta!” as loud as he could.  Then after we finished lunch, as I was walking out the restaurant, I tripped on a step and fell flat on the floor in front of the staff.  My entire body was on the ground.  Several people rushed to help me up.  My ankle hurt, my wrists were throbbing, neither injury equaled the humiliation.

A serving platter with traditional colors and patterns of Derutian art. Fernando offered us a 100 euro discount.

Ray loved this store. They sold tiles decorated with medieval games. The owner taught Ray to play, then invited him to her studio later this summer to paint a plate.

An artist at work. All the pieces in this store were created by her and her sister.

Before the tears and blood


8 thoughts on “Deruta, paint the town

  1. It’s SO great to get to read this while I scarf on a croissant and take my coffee while at work in the morning!! 🙂
    LOL – “mi aiuto!” Poor Ray.
    Sorry that you fell on your face. I hope that glass of wine was worth it. oxx (smirking)

  2. Greetings, Tom could e-mail the NFL Commissioner or President and tell him he admired his platter. Could get a response. “tell him he will like it”. It will be fun to return to Deruta to make selections. Boys look to be acclimating to the surroundings. love, Grandpa John

  3. Oh Ray, I am so glad you could yell for help. Jill, I was at a swim meet last week, walking down cement bleachers where everyone sat to watch the meet (and my fall.) When I got to the bottom I tripped on the last step, fell flat on the ground and scraped up my legs and hands. The funny thing is I was walking over to join Mary and her friends when it happened. Mary said her friends were just saying ‘Oh you’ve got such a cool mom’, Mary was smiling, happy to see me coming over when the face-plant happened. As I got up, trying to be cool about it, but really in a lot of pain, one of Mary’s friends said, ‘Whoa! That was epic!’ I agree with you, for as much pain as I was in, the embarrassment was more painful. But we carry on. I’ll save a big juicy smooch for you and hope it makes you feel better. 🙂

  4. So sorry, I can feel the scrapes from here. I, too, loved Deruta and bought a plaque for the kitchen which I will use for a trivet. Unbelievable experience, so much to see.

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