HANDICRAFT - Tradition

Experience a truly authentic human connection!

PISA GOLDSMITHS TOUR: ART, TOOLS & TECNIQUES

Golsmith’s art in Tuscany dates back to to the fascinating Etruscan people (VIII century BC) who knew the secrets and how to work metals: they created extrimely precious and unique jewelry by making use of the most sophisticated tecniques (repoussé, filigree and granulation).

While in Middle Ages artists were often collaborating with goldsmiths and especially ‘battiloro’ to create their works of art, in Renaissance time it is attested that great personalities like Brunelleschi, Ghiberti, Donatello, Luca della Robbia and Benvenuto Cellini started their apprenticeship as artisans at a goldsmith’s workshop.

Today there are a few master artisans in Pisa, who keep on with this very ancient craft.

Your local guide Martina will lead you through the historic centre and make medieval and renaissance Pisa come alive: you will see the places, feel the atmosphere, learn about the goldsmiths and their patrons.

Then, you will meet native and passionate master artisans and Martina’s friends, who will host you in their cosy workshop and show you some tecniques, besides their authentic and one of a kind handmade jewelry.

It will be truly authentic local experience!

PISA AND THE CERAMICS

Islamic Spolia & Pisan ceramists
Back in time to X century Pisa, it is possible to notice a unique and interesting trend in architecture, which distinguishes this area until XIV century: the re-use of glazed majolica bowls (‘bacini ceramici’), which were imported from North-Africa and Spain (al-Andalus), as decorative elements on the external walls of buildings – usually set below the eaves of parish churches and, in the case of San Miniato al Tedesco, on the façade of the Duomo itself.
 
In XIII century a production of ‘bacini ceramici’, daily use pottery and tableware also started in town and afterwards in its surroundings (San Giovanni alla Vena, Cucigliana,Vicopisano, San Genesio).
 
These days only a few master artisans carry on the art of ceramics: join this walking tour through the historic centre of Pisa with Martina and you will have the opportunity to meet them!
Furthermore you will see the places where local artisans run their workshops in the past and some of the medieval churches which still attest the re-use of Islamic spolia and local maiolica bowls (most of the ones you will see on site they are copies).
 
You will start from the Cathedral of Saint Mary in ‘the field of miracles’ and proceed along Saint Mary’s Street to reach the church of Saint Sisto in Cortevecchia, located in Saint Mary’s quarter. Thereafter, you will enter the neighborhood of Saint Francis and stop at the church of Saint Zeno, the church of Santa Cecilia, the Church of Sant’Andrea and the Churh of San Paolo all’Orto, all of them located on the right bank of the Arno River, where the old city of Pisa has developped since VII century BC.
 
The tour will finish at the National Museum of Saint Mattews where an amazing collection of ‘bacini ceramici’ is kept (you will see a selection of the 636 original pieces): you will learn how they provide us interesting information on economics and society in Middle Ages.
 
Note:
 
1) If you were also interested to visit either the X-XI century Basilica of San Piero a Grado, located near Marina di Pisa, or the hilltown of San Miniato al Tedesco ( it takes 40 minute by car/50 minutes by train),  Martina would be happy to revise your itinerary.

2) She would also be pleased to bring you to San Giovanni alla Vena/Vicopisano where you could meet a ceramist who got the permission to recreate some of the original ‘bacini ceramici’ and took inspiration from to make his own.

LUCCA AND THE ‘SILK ROAD’ TOUR

Merchants, tools, secrets & techniques

In the walled city of Lucca the art of silk weaving has been practiced by young women since XII century and became prosperous between XIII and XV century.

At first local merchants imported raw yarn from Sicily, Greece and middle East. subsequently they launched silkworms breeding and the silk production  quickly increased: in XIII century there were 3.000 looms running in town.

The unique and beautiful diasper silk fabrics from Lucca become very popular and were exported to northern and central Europe: they were sold on the fairs of Lyons, Flanders and London.

Although it lost popularity within 15th century, the handmade silk production went on in family run workshops and small suburban ‘factories’ until 1930s.

Today there is only one silk factory and a few master artisans who carry on this very ancient local art and craft.

Join Martina in this ‘silk road’ tour of Lucca and learn about the merchants guild, discover the places of production and the people who were involved in the silk business.

Eventually you will also have the opportunity to meet incredibly skilled native artisans who either inherited this ancient art from their family’s members or got an interest and became passionate about it!
They will host you in their workshop and show you the looms, the instruments they use to weave (it may happen they give you a demonstration of the work) and their unique and one of a kind silk, wool, alpaca and linen fabrics/accessories.

It will be a truly authentic local experience!

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