Deruta hand-painted ceramics and pottery began as far back as the Renaissance and for the past four generations Giovanni Baiano and his family have been a key part of this local artisanal industry. Giovanni's wife, California native and architect Joan Malloy, shared the fascinating Deruta and Antica Fornace Deruta story with me.
Deruta and pottery
Deruta is a short drive north of Rome and many visitors to Italy make the day trip to purchase gorgeous hand-painted ceramics and pottery. The town is all about ceramics and pottery and each and every local is involved in the business in one way or another. Some are involved in ceramic and pottery design, others in color creation or glazes. Others do the hand-painting, or work with the kilns and pottery baking.
Deruta runs right along the E 45, the main road heading north towards Perugia. The main drag as you enter Deruta is filled with ceramics and pottery shops. You can visit them and then head up to the historic center, also filled with numerous shops. It's up in the historic center where you will find Giovanni Baiano and his shop.
Back in the early 1900s there was just one ceramics company in Deruta, the Società Anonima Maioliche. Giovanni's relatives all worked in the factory as painters and managers and when Giovanni's father Francesco joined the company in the 1940s he became the production manager.
Initially the factory was located in the historic center but in 1955 it moved down to a new headquarters on the main road, Via Tiberina. In the 1970s financial and political difficulties lead the factory to close and employees from the factory began to open their own artisanal ceramics and pottery shops.
When the factory closed as a form of payment Francesco Baiano was given much of what remained in the factory including drawings, watercolors and projects. Francesco was then able to use these later on in his own shop.
Giovanni Baiano and the Antica Fornace Deruta
Although ceramics and pottery was a fundamental part of Giovanni's life and background growing up he initially decided to follow a different path and become a geometra: someone who executes technical drawings for architects.
He was soon drawn back to the family business in part because of his passion for ceramics and pottery but also because of his inherent artistic passion, talent and flair.
Giovanni is involved on a hands-on basis in every aspect of the family ceramics and pottery business but his passion remains in design.
The ancient kilns
The Baiano family has owned the property where their shop is located since the middle ages. At a certain point the family decided to do some renovation and enhancement and as part of this process they removed stucco from one of the walls. Much to their surprise and delight what they uncovered were two ancient kilns dating back to the 1400s. At the very back of the kilns Giovanni found fragments of ceramics and pottery and he’s recovered some of these ancient designs and uses them in some of his pottery.
Some of Giovanni's Products
Hand-painted ceramic wine glasses
Giovanni's cleverest creation are his hand-painted ceramic wine glasses. Giovanni creates a hand-painted ceramic wine glass base and stem, with the stem is hollowed out. He then takes a crystal wine glass, cuts off the base and inserts the crystal stem into his hand-painted ceramic stem.
I've been collecting these glasses and they are a beloved part of my ceramic and pottery collection. Also the most admired by my guests! Here are some of the glasses:
If you're wondering what wine to serve in these gorgeous glasses try a great Italian wine. The Rimessa Roscioli Wine Club is a great place to start and here's what I wrote about it.
Custom tableware and designs
Giovanni’s shop is full of fabulous classic designs as well as many of Giovanni's own designs. The Antica Fornace Deruta can prepare and execute your own designs, and work with you to create other custom designs.
Other artisan tableware items
If you'd like to pair your ceramics with other local artisanal products like tablecloths Giovanni and Joan have you covered. They know where to purchase lovely Umbrian items to complete your dinner table.
Beyond pottery and ceramics tableware
Check out the the Antica Fornace Deruta website for other gorgeous pottery and ceramics products like vases, tiles, hand-painted table tops, candlesticks, Christmas tree bulbs and ceramics art. Don't see what you're looking for? No problem; Giovanni and Joan can make almost any ceramic or pottery custom product you are interested in.
How to get to Deruta and the Antica Fornace Deruta
By car (about 1 ½ hours / 140 kilometers):
Take the A1 north towards Firenze (Florence) from the GRA (beltway) Via Salaria exit.
When you reach Orte exit onto the E 45 and head in the Perugia direction.
When you reach Deruta take the Deruta Sud exit onto Via Tiberina.
Once you are in Deruta head up to the historic center to Giovanni’s shop: Via Fabbretti, 5, 06053 Deruta PG.
The historic center is small so park where you can and walk to the shop.
For any questions contact the shop directly: +39 392 525 8777.
Interested in learning more about Italian hand-painted ceramics and pottery?
Read (and listen) here for the five best places in Italy to buy Italian hand-painted ceramics and pottery.
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