Deruta is located less than 20 kilometers from Perugia, but probably would be just another small Umbrian hill town boasting a handful of master artworks as well as the Romanesque-Gothic church of San Francesco with it’s 14th century frescoes if not for its reputation as ceramics central. Deruta has been famous for it’s ceramics for over 300 years, and although the industry there may have developed due to the abundance of quality local clay, that supply has since been extinguished and most Deruta artisans now purchase their clay from Tuscany, particularly from the area around Sansepolcro. After all these years, ceramics are still the town’s calling card, and they attract visitors from around the world who come to browse and buy in the dozens of small shops tucked along the cobble-stoned streets in the older, upper part of Deruta, or the array of larger-scale factories lining Via Tiburina at the foot of town.
Deruta, was probably built on Roman foundations, and is set on a knoll overlooking the Tiber valley. The town’s fortifications date from the 12th century when it was an outpost in Perugia’s marches, facing the rival town of Todi. Deruta has been inhabited since Neolithic times which can be traced back to it’s walls and in the three arches that sit at each end of the old center. The Romans made great use of the local clay, but it wasn’t until the discovery of the distinctive blue and yellow glazes in the 15th century that Deruta became known for it’s ceramics. During the sixteenth century some of the pieces created in Deruta made their way into the world’s major museums and many patterns used in the ceramics produced today are mainly copies of these earlier designs.
How to arrive in Deruta – Deruta is located quite close to the town of Perugia so reaching the town is not very difficult. Visitors can easily reach Deruta by bus, and state buses in the region connect the town to several larger cities in the province as well as to the larger cities in Umbria. Buses depart every few hours for Deruta from Perugia and from other smaller towns in the region. Those who have their own cars can also drive down to the town easily since Deruta is located only 15 km from Perugia and can be seen right off of E45 the major highway.
Things worth seeing in Deruta - The old town is worth a quick stroll through although it truly isn’t that compelling apart from the Museo Regionale della Ceramica which highlights the importance of ceramics to Deruta through the ages and is probably the most important museum of it’s kind in the region. Early ancient furnaces can be seen as one enters the historical centre of Deruta through the Porta di S. Michele Arcangelo, and in the small Piazza Biordo Michelotti one may see the gotho-romanesque church of S. Arcangelo, in front of which there is a fine polygonal fountain dating from 1848.
The historic town center also features the Gothic church of San Francesco built in 1388, and the Palazzetto Municipale (Town Hall), which dates from about 1300, located on the Piazza dei Consoli (the “Square of the Consuls”). In addition to the usual governmental offices, the municipal hall houses a Museum of Ceramics, an art gallery (the Pinacoteca), and an atrium where one can view a variety of archaeological finds, some dating as far back as Neolithic times.
The art gallery has a number of valuable pieces worth viewing, including a fresco by Perugino, depicting San Romano and San Rocco (1476), and the collection donated by a local patron, Lione Pascoli, which includes works by Niccolò di Liberatore, called Alunno, Giovan Battista Gaulli, Sebastiano Conca, Francesco Trevisani, Antonio Amorosi, Francesco Graziani and Pieter Van Bloemen. The gallery also houses works received from various Deruta churches including San Francesco, Sant’ Antonio, the Defunti di Ripabianca and the Ospedale San Giacomo.
The church of Sant’Antonio, with frescoes by Bartolommeo and Giovanni Battista Caporali, rises at the end of a narrow street, Via Mastro Giorgio. Another church worth seeing is the Madonna del Divino Amore on Piazza Cavour. Along the Tiberina road, at the foot of the old town, yet another church, the Madonna delle Piagge, which is decorated in a colorful selection of ceramic tiles.
Ceramic Shopping - Deruta is mostly known for its excellent quality ceramics which are exported to all parts of Italy as well as to other countries. If you are shopping for unique pieces of ceramics, it is best to stay away from the factories. There are numerous shops located across the town where visitors can purchase beautiful locally made ceramics although these might be quite expensive. The best thing to do is to purchase ceramics directly from the small artisan’s workshops whenever possible.
Museo Regionale della Ceramics
Largo San Francesco
Ph- 075 971 10 00
Hours Vary According To Month
Market Day – Tuesday is market day in Deruta