Crafts in Deruta are represented by the production of artistic majolica. The oldest document on this type of art is dated 12 August 1290, and attests to payment “in natura” with “unam souman vasorum”. This was the archaic period when daily-use objects were made: jugs, bowls and dishes with geometrical and zoomorphic decorations. The predominant colours used were copper green and manganese brown. In the following centuries majolica from Deruta reached its apex of splendor, spreading in the course of the sixteenth century to the main cities, and not only Italian ones. Artists such as Giacomo Mancini (EL FRATE) and Francesco Urbini signed works of art of great value. There is a whole repertory of designs with female figures, mythological scenes, battles and sacred images, decorated in many different ways. Meanwhile the colour palette was enriched with orange, blue and yellow. The technique of polishing appeared too, with splendid golden tones on the most valuable works. Floors, such as the one of the Church of Saint Francis in Deruta, dating from 1524 and the one of St. Mary the Greater in in Spello in Perugia are more examples of the best creations of majolica from Deruta. Later, style and decoration evolved to the calligraphic, Moorish style, with intertwined leaves, flowers, arabesques, birds and other animals. In the XVIII° century production went through a crisis, yet Gregorio Caselli opened a factory in Deruta that produced porcelain-imitations in majolica. Following the unity of Italy, production started up again, thanks to the work of Angelo Micheletti, Alpinolo Magnini, David Zipirovic and Ubaldo Grazia.
Today, the high level of artistic work produced can be seen by visiting the “living Museum” winding through the streets of Deruta and consisting of workshop, exhibition halls, laboratories and factories where one can observe the various production stages.
“foto della pinacoteca immagine dei due santi”
Being located on a soft hill – overhung by woods – Deruta offers a wide view allowing your eyes to sweep the whole valley: from Mount Peglia to Perugia, from the Tiber plain to the opposite hills. Close by the ancient boundary walls, you will find the oldest village, from there if you climb across three city gates of the ancient defence system you will have access to the historical heart of the city. There , the civic towers and the church tower of St.Francesco stand out, overhanging the rectangular-shaped square, with a beautiful fountain.During the Fifties the new part of the city developed along the ancient street Via Tiberina, thus creating many handicraft workshops for the manufacturing of artistic majolica. As a matter of fact, the activity of the most part of the 7600 inhabitants of Deruta, located 15 km far from Perugia and 150 km far from Rome, is linked to this well known production.
If you enter the historical centre of Deruta across Porta St. Michele Arcangelo you will immediately find visible evidences of ancient factory bricks, the first one is nowadays out of use, whilst as to the subsequent ones, one dates back to the Sixteenth Century and it is perfectly preserved, the other could be activated in any time. The little square Biordo Michelotti is overhung by the sober Romanesque-Gothic lines of the church of St. Arcangelo, no longer destined to the cult, with the facade adorned by decorative tiles. Opposite there is the Fountain with polygonal plant, realized by the quinquevirs of the City in 1848. After that you reach the Square of Consoli bordered by modern buildings, which are adorned with majolica plates and tiles , and by the Palazzetto Municipale, dating back to 1300, with portals and mullion windows with two lights. In the entrance hall archaeological finds – both Neolithic and Etrurian – are collected, together with fragments of epigraphs, terracotta jars, sculptures and capitals. Moreover, the palace accomodates the Picture Gallery (Pinacoteca) and the Museum of the Ceramics. The Gallery exhibites important collection of paintings coming from the Churches of St. Francisco, St. Antonio, of the Defuncts and from the Hospital of St. Giacomo. The most interesting nucleus is to be found in a part of the rich collection of Lione Pascoli. Other noteworthy works can be admired, among the others, such as: the Alunno’s paintings, the Baciccio’s , the Stendardo’s, the Amorosi’s, the Fiorenzo di Lorenzo’s as well as a painting by Guido Reni. Some precious documents of the archives – regarding the history of Deruta, are reserved In the room of the Tower. The most valued volume is the Missale frairum minorupi of the XIII century. A majolica, of big size, work of Zipirovie, reproducing Raffaello’s Wedding of the Holy Virgin, is currently preserved in the room of the Junta. In the Museum of the Ceramics, the visitor can admire amatory goblets, bread soup bowls, umbilicate trays, albarelli and holy water fonts, dated back to the period from the archaic to the present time. Opposite the Municipal Palace there is the church of St. Francisco, in gothic style, consecrated in the 1388. Of remarkable interest the inside, as well as the bell towers, that with the civic tower, overhang the public square thus characterizing Deruta even from big distances.Contiguous to the church, there is the former Franciscan convent with the ancient cloister. At the end of the narrow street Via Mastro Giorgio the church of St. Antonio stands out, meaningful frescoes by Bartolomeo and Gian Battista Caporali are preserved in it. A little further, a wide view on the plain of Tiber River and on the bordering hills sweeps away. The lower part of the historical center is the Valle, old popular quarter, whose street axis, Via Maturanzio, joins the Porta Perugina to the Porta del Borgo. When you get to the square Piazza Cavour you can see the small Church of the Madonna Del Divino Amore, today known under the name of Madonna della Cerasa. When you go ahead you will find the remainings of the hospital of St. Giacomo, instituted in 1414, but whose origin is more ancient. It was already located in the Village near the Church of S. Anna, probably dating back to the Middle Age. The Church of St. Anna (a private property) preserves a painting reproducing St. Anna, St. Gioacchino and the Holy Virgin (1744). Along the road Via Tiberina you run across the small Church of Madonna delle Piagge (1601) ,whose facade, is decorated by beautiful majolica patterns, whilst inside you can admire a fresco representing the Holy Virgin with the Child, work of a local late mannerist artist.