Golden hands

a splendid Renaissance plate in the Mari’s workshop in Deruta

This crazy country of mine, sometimes I am proud of it. Italy is a land of extremes. Bad is really bad here. Take our politics, unspeakable.
However I must say, good is sometimes extraordinary here. Take what people can do with their hands. Art is all over here, it’s not only in the Academia or at the Vatican.
Umbria is famous for the medieval hilltowns, for the rolling hills and for her artisans. Some of them make souvenirs but some are real artists as well as custodians of centuries old traditions.
My friends and ceramists Rita and Franco Mari in Deruta belong to the second category. Some of their pieces are as far as the Art Museum of Philadelphia.
  classic Mari’s table ware

Franco has been painting ceramics for most of his life and so did his father and grandfather. In this world where everything has to take 5 minutes, he does a priceless work of patience and precision.
Painting a piece can take 12 hours. Each piece has to be fired before and after painting  and if there is even a small defect it has to be corrected and fired again. Rita checks every tiny gap in the glaze. Each piece is worked 12 to 14 times.
vibrant colors and intricate design

The colors are so vibrant they will stay in your mind like the memory of a dream. The work is perfect, the lines flow, the figures are almost alive. Franco uses ancient designs in novel ways. He is working on a heart collection right now. A top biologist has commissioned plates to celebrate a conference of  heart scientists.
Look, there are vessels, circuits and all the cells, it’s incredible.
Mari’s heart plate

Next time you come to Umbria please make yourself a favor and go to visit Franco and Rita. You will not regret it. You will see wonders.
Majoliche D’arte Franco Mari Via Tiberina 152, Deruta, Umbria, Italy


  1. Beautifully said, Letizia! The art of Umbria can be found in so many different places, including stunning textiles and really intricate ceramics. This is just one of the reasons I’ve grown to love Umbria, the appreciation of beauty and its deep roots in the history of the region.

  2. Hi Sandra and Menehune!
    I am really trying to help our artisans in some way. These small family businesses have suffered terribly of the bad economy, if people don’t realize they are there they will close and we’ll only have made in China souvenirs. It’s awful.

  3. Ciao Letizia, Gorgeous work! How close are Franco and Rita to you? Would love to visit them when we are in Umbria! So much to do when we come to Umbria! Spero che tutto sia a posto e l’estate vada bene! Entro due mesi ci saremo con te! A presto.

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