Monday, 17 September 2012

Italian Terracotta Garden Decorations

As you travel around Tuscany, you will rapidly realise that Italian terracotta garden decorations play a prominent role in garden architecture here, from the grand gardens of the Tuscan villas through farmhouse gardens to the balcony decorations of village homes.

Italian Terracotta Garden Decorations
Terracotta vases and antique oil jars used to grow lemon trees in Panzano
Terracotta has been used in Tuscany as building and decorative material since at least the time of the Etruscans. Today, a major source of both the clay and the finished products is Il Ferrone with nearby Impruneta also producing large quantities of high quality decorative pieces. Both places are within easy reach of Florence by car or bus. The furnaces of Impruneta became extremely important with the building boom that started during the early Renaissance, when bricks and tiles were required in vast quantities, and have remained so ever since, with a movement towards more decorative pieces and an emphasis on skilled handwork. During the last few years, painted terracotta has also made an appearance in Impruneta.

One of the most unusual recent developments in a number of countries, has been the production of wine in terracotta vessels, as practiced by the Romans and also in Georgia since possibly even earlier times.

Visitors can easily select and buy smaller items to be carried home as hand luggage, but it's better to have larger items shipped. This latter exercise is not exactly an inexpensive proposition. However, the quality of Italian terracotta is very high. Cheap imports, mostly from Indonesia, easily break and are not frost resistant. In contrast, the terracotta vases and jars made in Impruneta resist even exposure to snow and last extremely well - as witnessed by the antique oil jars frequently seen standing outdoors in Tuscan gardens and on terraces here.

The town of Impruneta is worth a visit not only on account of its terracotta furnaces but also the Basilica of Santa Maria, located on the main piazza of the town, and two famous fairs. The Festa dell'Uva (Grape Festival) takes place on the last Sunday of September and the Fair of Saint Luke on 18 September.

More about Impruneta and its terracotta.

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