Authentic Tuscan Ceramics from Vicopisano

Authentic Tuscan Ceramics from Vicopisano

After living in Vicopisano for fifteen years we have been blessed with many opportunities to get to know the local people and purchase their incredible artisan products. Some of our favourites are the stunning ceramics that are created by two local potters – Nesti Ceramics and Vittorio Ceramics and we’re absolutely delighted to announce a collaboration to bring their incredible ceramics to a wider audience.

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Hand painted traditional Tuscan ceramics

Nesti Ceramics

The small town of San Giovanni alla Vena comes under the district of Vicopisano where both towns are linked by an ancient road at the foot of the hills of the Monte Pisano https://authentic-tuscany.com/discovering-the-olive-oil-route-of-the-monte-pisano-in-tuscany/. It is a very small town, situated about 20km from Pisa and 3km from Vicopisano which only takes about twenty minutes to walk on foot and is just five minutes drive away by car.

The town has a long and proud history of ceramics and pottery making, which for many years formed the main craft and artisan industries of the area. This continued right up to the early 1980s when a large percentage of the town’s population made their living from producing their own ceramics.

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The ceramic sign on the doorway to Guido Nesti’s workshop

Sadly, the introduction and development of less-expensive, mass-produced tableware had a detrimental impact on the production of local ceramics within San Giovanni alla Vena, leaving just a single potter who still practices his craft today. 

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Guido Nesti has been ‘throwing down clay’ since he was a child

Guido Nesti has been ‘throwing down clay’ and creating his beautiful ceramics since he was a child, and Nesti Ceramics (Ceramiche Nesti) has been a family business since 1922, continuing today with Guido, his wife Chiara and their son Matteo. Their small ceramic workshop is hidden away from the new main road in San Giovanni alla Vena and Guido sits at his wheel once a week to create his incredible authentic Tuscan ceramics.

#5 Guido_s wife Chiara hand painting an intricate design
Guido’s wife Chiara painting an intricate design

He is most renowned for his ‘splatter design’ –  a distinctive green and yellow splatter design that has been produced on tableware since the 16th Century, with the introduction of a green and white design in the 18th Century. While the splatter design (known as Schizzato in Italian) is not entirely unique to the region (in fact, it is possible to find these sorts of designs all over Italy), every single design and colourway is different. Guido follows a traditional process, creating this design in the way it has been done for hundreds of years by using a handcrafted brush made from the branches of nearby trees. 

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Schizzato/Splatter design tableware
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Handcrafted brush made from twigs of a local tree

While the art of the local artisan potter may be seen as a dying trade, Guido has managed to find success with his craft. As more people begin to appreciate the importance and beauty of Tuscan traditions and artisan products, he produces commissions for locals and businesses and was recently awarded a commission by the Council of Vicopisano to provide house number plaques in terracotta for every residence in the historic centre. When visiting Vicopisano today, guests will notice that all of the houses have the same plaque, complete with an impression of a Vicopisano tower.

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Terracotta door numbers in the historic centre

In addition to commissions the Nesti family produce beautiful one-off pieces ideal for gifts and unique souvenirs, along with functional tableware some with designs from the 16th Century.

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Souvenir ideas from Nesti Ceramics

Vittorio Ceramics

In Vicopisano resides another skilled artisan who has chosen to work with ceramics. After graduating from art school, Vittorio trained at the Centre of Ceramics Experimentation for Skills and Technical Innovation (or the Centro Ceramico Sperimentale), a famous ceramic school in Montelupo Fiorentino.  http://www.centroceramicosperimentale.it/en/about-us/

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Intricate designs by Vittorio

The art of ceramics production in Montelupo Fiorentino has a proud history, dating all the way back to the Middle Ages and becoming one of the most important centres in pottery and ceramic production in the Renaissance period and Medici rule, remaining today as a centre of excellence for ceramics. Traditionally, beautiful ceramics served as status symbols for the rich and powerful, being used in everyday life as an expression of wealth. The most important families in the area ordered entire dinner sets for special occasions and celebrations from Montelupo, usually consisting of hundreds of pieces.

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Vittorio at work

Today, Vittorio produces beautiful items such as plates and bowls that have been inspired from the Renaissance period. His beautiful and intricate designs take hours to produce: a 25cm / 10 inch medium-sized plate can take four to five hours to create. He also likes to add contemporary interpretations to some of his traditional designs and has recently started to produce cute little terracotta impressions of the buildings and towers of Vicopisano.

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Handpainted beautiful designs
#12Fridge magnets inspired by Vicopisano towers
Fridge magnets inspired by the towers of Vicopisano
Vicopisano in a display box

Want to Own Some Authentic Tuscan Ceramics Creations?

At Casa Colomba we adore both the Nesti family creations and Vittorio’s beautiful designs. We have visited Guido in his workshop many times, purchasing multiple sets that we use when dining with our guests – it is always fascinating to watch him work and how skilled he is. We have lots of different designs, from the blue and white and green and yellow splatter design sets, to hand-painted sunflower salad bowls. Vittorio does not have a walk-in studio, relying on selling his ceramics through the local artisan markets. Unfortunately, at the time of writing this blog these are all currently cancelled.  

Want to own some of your very own authentic Tuscan ceramics? We are delighted to be collaborating with both Nesti Ceramics and Vittorio to bring their beautiful artisan creations to you in your very own home! It’s so exciting that we can support a local business and keep the Tuscan traditions alive and they look absolutely stunning in either on the dining or kitchen table or even more so under the summer sun!  And even better, as each piece is made to order it is possible to inject some of your own personal preferences into your ceramic orders with regards to colours and designs – for example, a bowl with a sunflower design can also be produced with lemons instead!  

If you are interested in purchasing some original Tuscan ceramics, contact us via our contact page or email us info@authentic-tuscany.com.  You may also message us on WhatsApp.  If you would like to know more about the stunning and creative artisan products available click here. 

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