Deruta - the main sights for visitors

Main things to see and do in Deruta, Umbria

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Deruta offers a number of interesting sights for visitors, in addition to its ceramics outlets. The town is situated 15 km south of Perugia on a hill that overlooks the valley of the Tiber (Valtiberina) in Umbria. The new town extends along the Via Tiberina, parallel to the road that goes towards Rome.

Some of the walls of the ancient fortress remain, together with the arches of the three gates to the city and the mediaeval streets which lead into the Piazza dei Consoli. The Palazzo dei Consoli, today the town hall, the 14 C tower of which is adorned by Romanesque mullioned windows, is located in Piazza dei Consoli. The town hall houses the ceramics museum where beautiful local antique majolica is exhibited. An excellent picture gallery houses a painting by Niccolò Alunno from 1458, a banner of S. Antonio Abate by the same artist, a Madonna with Child and Saints from the School of Pietro Vannucci, known as Perugino, paintings by Amorosi,; by Gaulli, known as Baciccio, by Reni, by Graziani, known as Ciccio Napoletano, an illuminated missal of the 14 C, and altar-cloths of the 15 C. There is also a fresco of Saints Rocco and Rornano with a view of the town (1476), attributed to Perugino.

Opposite the town hall rises the Romanesque-Gothic Church of S. Francesco with the adjacent convent where Pope Urban IV died on October 2, 1264. The 14 C bell-tower has ogival mullioned windows. The interior, made up of one nave with polygonal apse, contains numerous 14 C frescoes of the Siennese school. On the left side of the altar there is a martyrdom of St. Catherine of Alexandria (1339), protector of Deruta's ceramicists, whose saint's day is 25 November, and another fresco with the Madonna, Child and Saints by Domenico Alfani.

In the nearby Piazza Benincasa stands the Church of S. Antonio Abate, housing a Madonna of Mercy with St. Francis and St. Bernard by Bartolomeo Caporali, and a fresco by Bartolomeo and G.B. Caporali featuring four scenes from the life of St. Anthony. The latter draw their inspiration from Signorelli's frescoes in the Chapel of S. Brizio in the Cathedral of Orvieto. On the high altar there is a 15 C statue of St. Antony in polychrome ceramics.

Ceramic art from Deruta

Ceramics remain one of the most important reasons for visiting Deruta. This Umbrian town is world-famous for its ceramic art, which dates back to the Middle Ages. The oldest and most important commissioned works date back to the 13 C, but the highest level of development was achieved by the masters of Deruta beginning in the early 16 C. Thanks to the ever-growing fame of Deruta's ceramicists, their workshops were entrusted with the execution of the pavements of the Chapel of the Palazzo dei Priori and of the Sacristy of the Basilica of S. Pietro in Perugia, and of the Baglioni Chapel in Spello. In the civic museum of Deruta there are remnants of the flooring of the Church of S. Francesco (1523-24).

Deruta History

Among the best known ceramic masters from Deruta are: Giacomo Mancini, known as "El Frate" (1545), Andrea di Cecco (1584), Lazzaro di Battista Faentino, Francesco Urbini, Gregorio Caselli (1770) and a certain "Paolo da Deruta" who in 1516 worked under the great ceramicist Mastro Giorgio Andreoli from Gubbio.

Unique documentation of Deruta's ceramics is displayed in the Church of Madonna dei Bagni, which is 2 km south of Deruta. The walls of the church are covered with votive ceramic tiles offered by the faithful from the 17 C until the present. In an extraordinary array of polychrome panels the visitor can follow the uninterrupted flow of Deruta's ceramic tradition, and gain an impression of Umbrian and Italian life during the last three centuries.

Today the production of artistic ceramics still constitutes the main activity of the town. With over 200 majolica workshops and shops as well as a State School for Ceramic Arts, Deruta faithfully continues its historic artistic traditions.

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