Grottaglie

Italy

Grottaglie thrives on its ceramic industry, and its artisans have been throwing pots since the 15th century, specializing in utilitarian items like huge vases, which they stack on the rooftops to dry in the sun. Today some 60 workshops lining the streets around Via F. Crispi do a brisk business in plates painted with a rooster, symbol of virility and good fortune. I eat off of plates from the following ceramics masters.

The La Grotta family, one long block from the bottom of Via F. Crispi at Via Leone XIII 9 (tel. +39-099-566-1632, www.ceramichelagrotta.com), has ground and mixed their own colors and glazes since 1800, and 72-year-old Ciro still works alongside his son Antonio, who creates unique pieces in an 18th-century style.

The cave-like Cosimo Vestita (Via F. Crispi 65-69, tel. +39-099-562-3169)

Rather more expensive, but of impeccable quality, is the firm of Vicenzo del Monaco, Via S. Sofia 2-4 (tel. +39-099-566-1023), in the family since 1640. Across the street above a raised square is Bottega Vestita, Via S. Sofia 23 (tel. +39-099-566-044; www.ceramistidigrottaglie.it/vestita), where Mimmo and his team craft traditonal wares, modern pieces using innovative pigments, and superb Attic–style kraters, kylixes, and vases inspired by museum pieces.

Tips

  • Visitor info: A temporary visitor's info center (tel. +39-099-566-7256 or 0339-223-2096) is set up each year in the ceramics zone (look for the "i" signs).

Tips & links

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Apulia tourism info: www.viaggiareinpuglia.it

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