Faenza’s Ceramics, The Beautiful Manufactures of Romagna


Faenza is synonymous with ceramics all over the world. About five centuries ago the Faenza factories were an important reference point for European ceramic production: in fact, the term "faience - fajence" is used in some regions of Europe as a synonym for majolica. The city, in fact,  thanks to the nature of the soil rich of red clay taken from the bed of the river Lamone, has naturally developed this technique; the innate imagination of local craftsmen did the rest, and so early as the Middle Ages Faenza became known beyond the borders of the city for the beauty and quality of his pottery.

The traditional glazed pottery began as everywhere else, by the need to make containers for the water and continues with the need to create kitchen utensils such as bowls, pitchers, vases, etc. In addition to the simple everyday objects, kilns for firing pottery were used specifically to create ornamental gifts for the lords of time. Thanks to the oriental and Spanish-Moorish influences, in the fifteenth century in the craftsmen laboratories developed a very wide range of decorative motifs.

With an innovative discovery, namely the addition of tin to the glaze composition, Faenza’s artisans obtained very white and compact surfaces on which stood out even more decorations. The enamel beauty of Faenza is even more evident in the objects decorated with small touches and barely mentioned light colors, which developed from the beginning of the sixteenth century; these ceramics were known everywhere as "Bianchi di Faenza". A wonderful example is the production of ceramics is the floor made by "Pietro Andrea of ​​Balestracci" for Cappella Vaselli of the Basilica of San Petronio in Bologna, dated 1487 and composed of 1079 different hexagonal tiles.

Of great beauty are also the central squares of the city of Faenza, which still overlook medieval and Renaissance palaces and the cathedral, which preserves the beautiful ark of S. Savino, by Benedetto da Maiano. The  former convent of S. Maglorio houses the rich International Museum of Ceramics, source of pride of the town. The permanent exhibition of the MIC winds through two routes that separate the section on ancient ceramics, placed in the spaces restored former convent district, from that of the twentieth century which is instead housed in the new wing built at the end of the last century. With this choice, the museum wanted to highlight the fruitful relationship between the characters of the various styles and the "making ceramics" through the centuries, to the present day.

The renewed interest in the "applied arts", stimulated by the events of the beginning of the century, has initiated a formal, decorative and technical upgrade process (from Brothers Factory Minardi to those of Calzi Achille and Zoli and Melandri) that in Faenza involved, in addition to ceramics, various local artistic sectors: from the wrought iron to that of the cabinet, the furniture and cabinet making (the Joinery Casalini boasted, for example, a long tradition of craftsmanship, skilled carvers, marquetry and the collaboration of different artists).