Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Tuscan Terra Cotta: The Fima Pottery Factory


In the Italian province of Perugia, in the hilly Umbria region, near the famous village of Assisi and its Basilica Papale di San Francesco, lies a quaint and unassuming pottery factory.  Located on the edge of a village, the Fima Pottery Factory is nothing really spectacular to look at from the outside.  Inside, however, is a totally different story.

medieval building Assisi Italy, Umbria Italy, things to see in Assisi
The beauty of Umbria, Italy.

I had the opportunity to visit the pottery factory while touring Italy with my Junior High students during our whirlwind Europe trip in 2010.  We had spent the morning in Assisi (which I will write about in a later post) and were headed on a long bus ride to Rome.  Our tour director had made arrangements for us to stop briefly on a little side trip at the factory in order to break up the trip.  I was so glad she did! (Most of my Italian souvenirs from that trip came from the Fima Pottery Factory.)

Fima Pottery Factory, Umbria Italy, things to see near Assisi
A Fima Pottery Factory worker painting some mugs.

My group was granted entry into the factory through the backdoor.  Rather than encountering polished, finished products right off the bat, we got to see the process from start to end. We wandered through the various departments, which were basically open and easy to find since the factory is located inside a big, airy warehouse-style building.  

Fima Pottery Factory, Umbria Italy, things to see near Assisi
An unfinished vase, but still very detailed.

Family-owned since 1960, the Fima Deruta Ceramica makes custom designed items of all shape and size: mugs, plates, pitchers, platters, and so much more.  It was very interesting to watch the items being shaped, the kilned, then painted and glazed. 

Fima Pottery Factory, Umbria Italy, things to see near Assisi
Bells waiting to be painted and glazed.

Fima Pottery Factory, Umbria Italy, things to see near Assisi
Pallets of pottery ready to be packaged and shipped.

Once we had finished with the tour of the factory, our guide led us into the main showroom, where shelves stacked with various pottery pieces wove in a seemingly endless maze. Bright colors assailed our eyes.  Even better, the shop had teamed up with some other local merchants to sell a variety of wares: locally produced oils, breads, meats, and cheeses. Several sample tables were set up for my students and I to taste the selections - I bought a bottle of truffle oil that tasted irresistible mixed with vinegar and soaked into bread!  I also bought a vinegar and oil set with which to use my truffle oil.

Fima Pottery Factory, Umbria Italy, things to see near Assisi
The showroom of Fima Deruta Ceramica.

Getting everything back was a little trickier - I wrapped my pottery very well and put it in my carry-on luggage so I could ensure it wouldn't break.  Oopsie - I also kept the truffle oil inside the same bag! When it was discovered by security in the Rome airport, I had to run across the airport to have the tiny bottle bubble-wrapped and stickered, then shipped home for me!  Didn't think that one through!

4 comments:

  1. Looks like the Filma Pottery Factory produces some beautiful pieces! Sadly after living and studying in Italy, I never brought home some ceramic piece. Definitely need to on my next visit!

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    1. You really should go visit - although, I am now suddenly jealous of you for having that amazing opportunity to live and study in one of my absolute favorite countries in the world!

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  2. This is something that I would LOVE to do. I have been in love with Italian pottery for a very long time. In fact, the first time I went to Italy, my dad and I tried to visit Deruta factory but got stuck in traffic and never made it.

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    1. That's too bad - it was a great place. Once you got to the Assisi area, it was quite accessible. Perhaps next time! :)

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