Adventures in Deruta

posted in: Italy Travel | 8

April 13
Yesterday was a day to relax and catch up. I am slowly learning that I have to pace myself, so I had la colazione in la mattina (breakfast in the morning ) in a beautiful dining room in my hotel. As usual in Italy breakfast is included with the reservation. Afterwards I went up to the rooftop to take in the view and later updated my blog.

Later I walked around and found the “scala mobile,” a series of escalators which take you from Piazza Italia to Piazza Partigiani, where the bus and train stations are. It is really cool because you feel as though you are descending into a cave since the historic section of Perugia is perched so much higher than the rest of the city. I bought a round trip bus ticket for tomorrow to go to Deruta, about 10 miles from Perugia.

Wednesday April 14
This morning I was up at 6 to get the early bus to Deruta. I was the only non-Italian on the bus, and the language I heard was the local dialect I think, because I did not understand much.

Arriving in Deruta, I discovered that I had to take a 2nd bus with students to the centro which was perched on a hill, like in Perugia. Once there, as it was before 9am, I started to explore this small area and hardly saw anyone, much less any tourists. Nothing was open and I had walked the entire town twice in one hour up and down numerous scale (stairs).

Staircase in Deruta, Italy

Eventually I had a conversation in Italian with a nice woman who indicated that the shops would open soon, and then she showed me her house and told me about her family who lived with her. Of course, as is typical in many Italian families, her son and his wife and their baby son all lived together. She was very proud to tell me that she was born in Deruta and worked with ceramics, and also, from her home, she had a beautiful view. This is what I love about being here – this connection with the people. They are all so friendly and welcoming.

I soon found the small tourist office, and the man who worked there spoke no English, only Italian, German, French and Spanish. When anyone says that everyone in Italy speaks English, it certainly does not hold true in the small towns.

I was able to communicate to this man that I was hoping to find a place where I could watch someone making the hand-painted majolica ceramic art, he indicated that I have to go back down the hill to places called “fabbrica.” Another man who was there showed me how to go and gave me directions in Italian.

Then he walked me to a shop nearby and explained that it was his ceramic shop and that his son worked where the “fabbrica” is done. So while there I looked around and told him I was interested in a biscotti jar, and he showed me a beautiful one hand painted by himself and his wife. It was 80 Euros which was a deal, but, after talking for awhile in Italian, he lowered the price to 70, and then gave it to me for 60 since I paid cash. He was very nice and and he wrapped it in bubble wrap, since now I will be having to ship it home.

Ceramics shop in Deruta

He told me all about his family and showed me the apartment he owns upstairs which he rents out for 60 euros a night. It was beautiful, two bedrooms, a living room, kitchen and bath, and everything looks new. I think he was a little too friendly though, saying that when I return to Italy, he would make a “special price” just for me.

I left there and wandered down to the lower part of Deruta and happened upon a “fabbrica” place, where one lady was inside. She was just so sweet, and even though nobody was working, she got out her paints and showed me how she paints the images after transferring from a template. She was 81 years old. Totally incredible!

Italian woman hand painting ceramics

Hand painted majolica ceramics in Deruta

I came back on the bus to Perugia and had pasta pomodoro which of course was delicious.

8 Responses

  1. Joe

    Sounds like you really made the most of your visit to Deruta! I love the pottery and wanted to bring something home but I was afraid it wouldn’t survive the trip. And those little towns really are filled with some of the most amazing people; friendly and incredible craftsmen!

    I was staying with friends just off the main road up on the hill while you were there. I hope the rest of the trip is going well…I am back at home and trying to get caught up with work stuff but I am looking forward to reading more of your blog!!!

  2. Eldest son

    Seems as if you REALLY like pasta pomodoro, as I have read multiple references to you eating it

  3. Bonnie D

    I am laughing over the fellow who “only” speaks Italian, German, French & Spanish. In this country if you live in Miami and speak spanglish you are considered a linguist! And before you ship the biscotti ceramic send us a pic. I loved the biscotti you used to bring us at work. Nothing I have had commercially made tastes like yours does.

  4. Holly

    Hi Margie,
    It sounds like you’re having a wonderful time. I am so excited for you. Enjoy your time in Europe. People in Italy sound so wonderful to be around.


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