ARTS AND CRAFTS

In the past, the Valle Siciliana was a so-called “march”, i.e. land under the rule of a marquess. Marches were generally borderland, and therefore busy areas with a lot of traffic, trade, merchants and travellers passing through. Perhaps this explains how the people here are characterised by their traditions of arts and crafts and the great number of small family businesses, such as dairies, butchers, potteries, vinyards, and so on. This particular aspect of our Valley is what makes it special and interesting for touring and discovering.

The Master Potters of Castelli

 

The most famous workshops in the entire valley, perhaps in all of Abruzzo, are those producing ceramics in Castelli. They probably date back to the end of the 15th and beginning of the 16th centuries. Historians like debating the importance of majolica in earlier times, but further back in time all kinds of terracotta was produced anywhere where water, clay and wood was readily available, so we will not go into that now.

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Today you will find a considerable number of artisan shops in Castelli. Considering how small the village is, and that there are at least fifty small businesses registered, is in itself an indication that they take their role as custodians of an age-old tradition quite seriously. They have managed to survive in modern days, continuing the production of ceramic artefacts appreciated all over the world. Some of these workshops can be visited, and if they have time the potters will gladly explain the proces and show you how they work.

 

Some of these places even won prizes and hold historical-archaeological records, so it is definitely worth your while to come and find out. Immersing yourself in the beautiful colours of the Castelli art shops, surrounded by our stunning mountains, is certainly good for your soul.

The Carpenters of San Pietro

 

Arriving at the square of San Pietro di Isola del Gran Sasso, you will find yourself in a village of “Arcari, Sediari and Charcoal Women”. Puzzled? Let us explain.
San Pietro is an old mountain village, surrounded by beautiful beech woods where charcoal used to be made, which was used for heating and cooking. It was mostly the women who had to check the charcoal to see if it was ready and then take it downstream to be sold.

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So what about the “Arcari” and “Sediari”? Well, the Sediari are the craftsman who make chairs (‘sedie’ in Italian). They are a special type of carpenter, who knows how to work with wood to make the frame of the chair, and also how to make the wicker seats.

 

The “Arcari” are another type of carpenter, who make the so-called ‘Arche’ or ‘Cascioni’. These are a particular type of peasant food storage cabinet, where our grandmothers stored flour, bread, biscuits and eggs. Visit the old shops in this beautiful remote village, and let yourself be amazed by the workmanship, beauty and ingenuity of these traditional pieces of furniture.

The Coppersmiths of Tossicia

 

At the Museum of Tossicia, you will find a fabulous collection of finely decorated copper objects, almost all made locally. This used to be a profitable business in this town. The craftsman of Tossicia were widely known in the area and a source of pride for its people. This old tradition of working copper to produce objects for daily use as well as ornamental, has not been passed on to the next generation and, unfortunately, has slowly faded away.

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Up until the 1980s, exhibitions of local copper products at itinerant markets were financed by a bank in Teramo, but now nobody needs Cuccuma, Conca or Maniera and Mappo anymore. One of the last to go was the copper workshop at Villa Tordinia, built right next to the river.
Still some old workshops can be visited; the owners or their children are usually happy to oblige. Perhaps it is not much, but it is enough to remind you of the importance of copper in the old days, and the skills needed to create useful and beautiful objects.

 

Just imagine how, in a rural area like ours, old storerooms or workshops can be full of surprises, like a treasure chest. The tools and materials used by craftsman like shoemakers, carpenters, blacksmiths charcoal burners and coppersmiths, are sometimes mysterious and puzzle the mind. Now we risk losing these places, because they are often neglected and abandoned. It is important, however, to remember our past and make sure we do not lose it. Who knows what can still be, albeit different, in the future. This is why we need you to come and visit, so we can preserve and pass on our beautiful stories.

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Photos by Andrea Pistocchi

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Photos by Andrea Pistocchi

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Ceramiche Simonetti

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The shop is located in the center of the village of Castelli, in the beautiful Via Sciesa. The Simonetti family with its historical passion for ceramics and art in general, are an important reference point in the pottery scene of Castelli.

 

They produce modern and surprising collections in contemporary sizes and shapes, with much attention to detail and respect for old traditions combined with the desire to grow and evolve artistically.

Also online orders and purchases.

 

Open 09.30-13.00 | 14.30-19.30
Credit cards accepted
Dogs allowed on a lead only

Ceramica d’Arte De Fabritiis

Office: c/o Villaggio Artigiano – 64041 Castelli (TE)
Shop and showroom: Via F. Grue, 24 – 64041 Castelli (TE)

 

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The history of ceramics in the medieval mountain village of Castelli includes the passion for this noble art of the De Fabritiis family, who turned their passion for this age-old craft into a flourishing business 130 years ago. Four generations later, it is still flourishing with customers all over the world.
Over time, this family’s passion has been passed on from generation to generation, always inspired, adapting and innovating with modern-day production and decoration techniques.
De Fabritiis Ceramics is known internationally for its classic Castelli landscape, but certainly does not limit itself to this old favourite. The family takes pride in continuous improvement, creating new styles, such as the glazed and decorated ‘black ceramics’ in the 1980s, and adopting new production techniques, as shown in the “Terzo Cielo” collection, items of holy art, and orange peel artifacts.
The combination of four generations of master potters with the innovations of modern times, make De Fabritiis Ceramics an interesting artisan and artistic enterprise, that proudly continues the five-century old tradition of Castellana ceramic art with modern-day technology.

Open: 09.00-12.00 – 14.00-18.00
Credit cards accepted
On-line shop open soon
Dogs allowed on a leash only

SHOPS