Not just Brickwork and Earthenware, but also lots of whistles! Print

 

The role of Marsciano as the main Umbrian town producing bricks, has led to the creation of the Dynamic Museum of Brickwork and Earthenware "Enzo Briziarelli", inaugurated in 2004. The museum documents centuries of brickwork and pottery production from the 16th to the 20th century and represents a very important moment in the construction of the town's identity. The museum, with its central nucleus in Palazzo Pietromarchi, unwinds along a path that includes visits to multiple locations and buildings situated in the area: the antenna museums of Compignano and Spina, the old renovated furnaces of Compignano and San Fortunato and the former tile factory of the Briziarelli kilns.

The creation of the antenna museums represents a dynamic, original and innovative journey into the rural, artisan and industrial culture of the Marsciano area, ensuring a close bond with the territory, its history and traditions. Inside Palazzo Pietromarchi you can admire an Etruscan tomb dowry, dating back to the 4th century BC, which was discovered in Villanova in 1987;  Etruscan-Roman earthenware (terracotta); architectural terracotta;  glazed earthenware; bricks made both industrially and by artisans; a series of large jars.  The earthenware on display inside the museum is divided into thematic areas and illustrates some aspects of farming and rural life.

You can visit the Sala del Camino (fireplace room) in which there is the reconstruction of a 19th century rural table with kitchen crockery and tableware; the Galleria degli Orci (Gallery of Pitchers) with oil and wine pitchers made in the 19th century; the Sala delle Pignatte (Room of Pots), with kitchen earthenware "for the fire; the Sala delle Brocche (Room of Jugs), with earthenware “for water”, for domestic use and, lastly, the Potter’s Shop  that reproduces an ancient earthenware workshop.

The brick section demonstrates the production and use of bricks from antiquity to the present day, including techniques, professional skills and production tools. The exhibition is divided into the following themed areas: materials and techniques in classical times and Roman bricks; pre-industrial and industrial production of bricks; architectural terracotta.

Terracotta earthenware is also the protagonist of a sculpture exhibition, set-up inside Palazzo Pietromarchi, of the Marsciano-born artist, Antonio Rancchia, known worldwide for his sculptures, which were made mainly from terracotta and created using his fingertips.

In an adjoining room, there is an exhibition of terracotta whistles. This is a unique, private collection of whistles from around the world, donated to the museum by a private individual, unique in its kind in quality and quantity. Relative to the world of whistles, the Municipal Administration has devised an "International Biennial competition of whistles in traditional terracotta and art." The museum’s itinerary leads us out of the beautiful 14th century noble palace, to go and visit the other locations spread over the territory.  Still in the town of  Marsciano, you can visit "La Ceramica" -  the former tile factory of the Briziarelli kilns, where, between the 1920s and 1940s, artistic and architectural terracotta was produced.

To learn more about the other places in which clay tiles and pottery were made, using pre-industrial production methods, you can go to San Fortunato and Compignano (about 12 km from Marsciano) and visit the well-restored ancient kilns. These date back to the 18th century and were used until the 1950s by kilnsmen of the area. These production methods can be re-enacted thanks to the presence of some of the old kilnsmen who still have vivid memories of the techniques and methods once used. Both kilns, about 4-5 km from each other, can be accessed free of charge.  A laboratory is available at the antenna museum of Compignano, which you can reserve and try your hand at pottery-making, using the various techniques.
The antenna museum "Rossana Ciliani" (13 km from Marsciano) is located within the old Castle of Spina, and is another place to stop off at, as part of the museum tour and visit an interesting centre of documentation about ancient professions relative to the production of wine, traditional iron processing, activity in the ancient kilns and other production methods featured in the rural life and the local economy.  (for information, tel. 075-8741152).

 

EXCERPT FROM “ABITARE IL TERRITORIO” (DISCOVERING THE TERRITORY) volume 1


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