The Maestro we have chosen for this visit was born in Rutigliano and at the age of 10 was already working in his father’s workshop. He soon became fond of this work and skillfully learned how to use the lathe of the clay.
His son also became fond of this particular kind of craftsmanship and learning the art of the lathe use, started to arrange some courses for those willing to begin working clay with a lathe. His sister graduated at the School of Education and dedicated her time to decoration of whistles and some other terracotta objects. She also started organizing some courses for clay handling, decoupage and other decorative techniques for children in schools and associations.
The Maestro’s wife is also involved in the achievement of objects.
Some decades ago, in Rutigliano, a small town near Bari, there were several artisan workshops (called fornaci), in which terracotta tableware, the renowned saucepans and piñatas were made. Indeed one of the roads of this village was named figuli, since the figulo was the person who used to shape the clay on the lathe. Nowadays in Rutigliano there is just one fornace left, the one of the Maestro we chose for all of you.
This great artist is the only one left who still makes terracotta kitchenware. In his workshop, once belonging to his father and in the future, hopefully, to his son, he has spent most of his life. Since he was 10, his hands have been shaping millions of special saucepans. Unlike modern pans, these terracotta ones have the peculiarity of preserving the flavor of food cooked in them. Indeed best Apulian restaurants and cuisine lovers use his products.
In the course of time, thanks to his sons and his wife, he also dedicated to the achievement and decoration of the well-known terracotta whistles. They were once used to gather the flock, summon the preys, frighten the evil spirits or send code messages to one’s fiancée. Nowadays terracotta whistles are just collectors’ items and the heritage of the past. They mix art, prank, trick, humour and irony and can be admired at the Rutigliano whistle local fair and of course, at his shop.
The manufacturing of terracotta is the same as the old times: the clay, a material which can be found in the underground after millions of years of decomposition of mineral rocks. Indeed it can be easily found by digging in the neighboring farmlands, taken in the workshop and, after drying it out, kneaded with water, until obtaining a paste.
This dough, shaped on the lathe, gives rise to saucepans, piñatas, plates, glasses, small cups, moneyboxes, vases and any other round object. Once kitchen pans are made, they are dried up, handles are placed, the bottom regulated and eventually they are dried and cooked the first time at 800 degrees in the centuries-old furnace (nourished by almond peel).
After the first cooking, pans and piñatas (called biscotti) are dredged and enamelled one at a time. Then they are baked once again in a gas oven at a temperature of 940 degrees. After final baking the product is ready to be sold.
Each person will pay €10,00.
Transfer to the places that will be visited is not included. Please ask if such service is needed.