• Total length (km): 60

A journey traced by the civilization and tradition of ceramics that starts from one of the most historically and artistically important centers of the Pisa area, small landmarks of the production of this ancient and noble artistic craftsmanship, such as San Miniato, Montopoli, Calcinaia, all overlooking the Arno river, because water is the essential element for the processing of clay.
A journey that, continuing towards Pisa, will lead us to discover churches and parishes that preserve ceramic testimonies of great value and that will end at the splendid basilica of San Piero a Grado, embellished by majolica bowls that finish the decorations of the external body of this considerable Romanesque complex.

SAN MINIATO
The starting point is the kiln of San Genesio, a center of ceramic production in the early Middle Ages that has come to light thanks to recent excavations. It is also worth visiting the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art where, in addition to some paintings of Florentine and Pisan masters of the 16th and 17th centuries, you can appreciate a valuable section of medieval majolica.

MONTOPOLI IN VAL D’ARNO
Proceeding along the course of the Arno, we get to  Montopoli in Val D’Arno, once famous for the manufacture Dante Milani. Since the 1920s for about 50 years, vases and plates finely decorated, have reached every corner of Italy and crossed national borders. After the closure of the company, some ex-employees founded their own manufactures, to keep alive a workmanship of artistic imprint. Some of them are axposed in the Museo Civico Guicciardini

CALCINAIA
The next stop will be at the Coccapani Museum,  which traces the history of one of the most important families linked to the production of pottery and crockery for daily use, then marketed by river. The Coccapani family arrived in Calcinaia in the 18th century, after having learned the art of manufacturing in the kiln owned by the Carthusian monks. In Calcinaia they continued their activity, installing a furnace that remained active until the early decades of the 20th century. In 2014, the restoration that has refurbished the building, turning it into a museum, was completed.

PISA
The suggestion is to stop and admire the ancient ceramic basins preserved in the Romanesque churches of Pisa . In particular, those of the facades of the Church of San Zeno decorated with faithful reproductions of ceramics of Islamic origin, dating back to the 11th-12th centuries. The originals are on display at the National Museum of San Matteo. Even the facades of ancient palaces and tower-houses of the 13th century, which make unique lungarni, retain evidence of terracotta partly covered by subsequent transformations.

The itinerary ends at the imposing Romanesque basilica of San Piero a Grado, embellished with elegant ceramic decorations dating back to the 10th century AD depicting boats or simple geometric patterns.

Total length: 60 km

 

 

 



Sights

San Miniato
The starting point is the kiln of San Genesio, an Early Middle Ages centre of ceramic production that was discovered during a recent archaeological excavation. Also worth a visit is the Diocesan Museum of Religious Art in San Miniato displaying important paintings by Florentine and Pisan masters from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and a precious selection of medieval majolica.

Montopoli in Val d’Arno
From San Miniato, continuing along the course of the Arno, we reach Montopoli in Val D’Arno, home to the historic Dante Milani factory. From the 1920s, for about fifty years, the finely decorated vases and dishes produced here were shipped all over Italy and abroad, spreading the name of this small town and its ceramic manufactories. After the closure of the Milani company, a number of former employees started their own businesses, keeping this purely artistic tradition alive.

Calcinaia
The next stop is the Coccapani Museum of Calcinaia, tracing the history of one of the most important families related to the production of daily use pottery and tableware. The Coccapani family came to Calcinaia from the nearby town of Montecchio in the mid-eighteenth century, after having learned the art of pottery making in the kiln owned by the Carthusian friars. In Calcinaia the familiy developed their own business, installing a kiln that remained active until the early decades of the twentieth century. The building underwent a restoration that ended in 2014 trasforming the structure into a museum.

Pisa
After visiting the manufactories of San Giovanni Alla Vena, a hamlet of Vicopisano, we suggest a stop at the old ceramic basins preserved in the Pisan churches. In particular, those of the façades of San Zeno and Sant’Andrea Forisportam, decorated with lozenges and oculi – faithful reproductions of eleventh and twelfth century Islamic ceramics. The originals are on display at the Museo di San Matteo. Even the façades of old palaces and thirteenth-century houses-towers, which make the lungarni unique, show traces of terracotta sections that were partly covered by later transformations. Continuing along the course of the river, our itinerary ends, after more than 50km, in San Piero a Grado, a Romanesque basilica embellished with elegant tenth century ceramic decorations representing boats or simple geometric patterns.

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