Terracotta orange, the colour warming the villages of Valdichiana Senese

Terracotta: craftsmanship and cultural heritage

Terracotta is a ceramic material with a long history and its use grew along with the various civilizations  who lived in the Mediterranean Basin. In Tuscany it entered people’s daily life and it defined the economy, history and culture of many areas such as Valdichiana Senese.

Here terracotta has an excellent dwelling in the municipality of Trequanda where it dominates the stage of the local economy. When we think of Trequanda and its districts of Castelmuzio and Petroio, we should imagine small artistic villages surrounded by nature. Here the warm and enchanting terracotta orange   decorates  the street, the gardens, the balconies and the terraces. At sunset old and new terracotta objects lit up in red warming the alleys and the walls of the villages in a magic atmosphere.

We find terracotta also in historic buildings such as  Torre del Molino a Vento di Trequanda. Dating back to the 18th century, the structure was built with great craftsmanship and it is surrounded by nature. At the top of the building we find a colombaio with over 600 terracotta nests where homing pigeons were bred. Setting off from their small "terracotta homes" the homing pigeons allowed communication with the surrounding villages.

From Trequanda we fly towards Petroio, the Sienese  home to terracotta. In the past, almost everyone in Petroio worked in terracotta manufacturing that gradually became one of the crown jewels of the Sienese craftsmanship. Since the 16th century, when the first craftsman studios were created, terracotta has always characterized the local economy. From the nearby rich clay pits the row material arrived in Petroio where every indoor space became a studio where craftsman’s creativity took shape.

In the past everyone in Petroio was able to manufacture terracotta, also those who didn't do it as a job, it was a real local art that for centuries went along with the locals' lives. Terracotta's plasticity has always determined its versatility and has allowed to create a wide range of objects. While walking in Petroio one might see a terracotta tribute to one of its most famous personalities: Bartolomeo Garosi known as Brandano, a famous and eccentric medieval preacher who left Petroio to spread the Christian religion around Italy.

Did such a creativity have its own signature? Of course! Every terracotta master signed its works while still raw with a nail, just as a real artist would have done. Today Petroio has a terracotta museum (with free entrance) and this proves how the local identity is strictly linked to its artisan tradition.

During the 64th edition of  Mostra dell'Artigianato ArteEArti, organized in Montepulciano  Fortress from the 19th to the21st of April, Strada del Vino Nobile di Montepulciano e dei Sapori della Valchiana Senese wants to give a special position to this product. When speaking of terracotta we speak of craftsmanship, creativity and tradition and two words come to our minds: beauty and quality, the best words to describe Valdichiana Senese and its products.