Artisans of Italy Series – Alabaster of Volterra.
All over Italy, there are artisans at work making handicraft in a tradition that has been handed down for centuries. Italian artisans working with Alabaster are highly recognised, and are regarded as some of the most highly skilled artist in the world.
In Volterra, a small town in Tuscany, there is a long history of beautiful artistic works being made using Alabaster: a calcareous warm and luminous stone substance mined in the vicinity of the town that dates back to the time of Etruscans. The Etruscans, from the 3rd century BC made urns using Alabaster to hold the ashes of their dead. Many of these urns are now preserved and exhibited in the Guarnacci Museum in Volterra.
The art of working with Alabaster had its own second Renaissance at the end of the eighteenth century, and many workshops once again sprung up in Volterra with highly skilled artisans creating high quality sculptures and products that are admired and sold all over the world.
On our recent visit to Volterra we met and spoke with a wonderful local artisan Giuliano Ducceschi. At 87 years young, Giuliano a master artisan, has a typical workshop of a craftsman. A small room with his workbench near the doorway to maximise the light, full of white dust and surrounded by his tools and creations.
Giuliano talks about the times when there were over one hundred artisans working in the town with several apprentices. Today, however, according to Giuliano, there are only ten or so true artisans left in the city as few people want to carry on this age old tradition. He would like very much to pass on all his skills and knowledge to an apprentice but he sadly describes his work as a lost art.
Vita Italian Tours visits the fascinating town of Volterra in The Best of Tuscany, Umbria and Le Marche tour in September every year. Our travellers are able to experience firsthand these famous alabaster craftsman’s at work in this charming and historical Tuscan hill town.
For more about this tour offered by Vita Italian Tours: www.vitaitaliantours.com.au
Information on the Tuscan town of Volterra: www.comune.volterra.pi.it/english
For more info on Alabaster production in Volterra: www.volterratur.it/en
For more about artist Giuliano Ducceschi: www.alabastriducceschi.com