This small village that dominates the area of Taranto from the top of Murgia hill is famous all over the world for its wonderful pottery. Our walk began in the courtyard of the fourteenth-century Episcopal Castle, the ancient home of the archbishops of Taranto, which houses the Ceramics Museum.
The museum illustrates the history of ceramics, preserving works and artefacts that cover a long chronological period ranging from ancient art to the most innovative and contemporary one.
Grottaglie can boast the only Pottery District in a rocky environment. We kept on walking, getting lost in the historic centre with its maze of curvy streets and its characteristic 'nchiosce', that is closed alleys where the houses overlook, and then we stopped in the artisan shops to admire the skilled hands moulding the clay and creating unique shapes.
In this particular district, there are about sixty workshops dedicated to the production of ceramics, with expert potters who have created workshops and cooking ovens in the rock of underground environments, used in the past also as oil mills.
Among the most characteristic pottery, there are “lu capasone” (i.e. a large vase used to store and keep wine and oil in good conditions), “lu srulu”, that is, a sort of ceramic jug to put wine and water, “lu pumu” (i.e. the Apulian pumo), an object used to be placed at the corners of the balconies. This object in the shape of a bud often appears as an ornament in the historic city centre.
Walking through the alleys of Grottaglie was an unforgettable experience, that allowed us to discover the beautiful works of art exhibited in the workshops and to stop and chat with the potters, always ready to tell their stories.