Today we took our Italy retreat students to the medieval Renaissance hill town of Montepulciano where they had the pleasure of visiting two working artisan studios. Montepulciano was founded by Etruscans in the 4th to 3rd centuries BC. We started our day at the Piazza Grande at the top of the hill, and worked our way down where our drivers picked up the students at the bottom.
Our first stop was the studio of Albo Mazzetti who lives and works in Montepulciano. He attended the Italian Mosaic School where he learned the art of mosaics from both the Roman and Byzantine periods. In 1975, together with another two colleges, Cimarosti and Sarchielli, he started the Mosaic Laboratory of the Italian Mosaic School. Together they they completed mosaics of more than 200 meters for a church in Lowell in Massachusetts, as well as work churches in other major US cities.
We talked about how the tiles also are cut in shapes, and glued to follow the form. Albo’s Van Gogh inspired works illustrate this concept very well. The students also noticed that there were a total of 346 boxes of different colored glass tiles in Albo’s collection.
You can never have enough paper, or apparently glass tiles.
Cesare Mazzetti’s shop is not far from the mosaic studio. He’s a story teller, and a character. Our Paper Paintings Italy Retreat students enjoyed hearing about the history of working with copper, Cesare’s famous clients, the jobs that bring him the most pride, and his passion for creativity.
“I was born in 1936. As I was growing up I spent all my time in the workshop with my brother. As there was no copper available we became tinsmiths. At the age of four I was in charge of spinning the pedal forge. We tinned pots for Chianciano hotels.”
Cesare explained to us how he hand-hammers all his cookware and that if he’s off by more than 40 hammer marks, the pot will not vibrate when struck. No vibration means no proper conduction of heat. To put this to the test, Cesare volunteered my Very Tall Boy to have the copper pot that had just been hit with the hammer, put over his head. Cesare asked Connor if he could feel the heat under the copper lid. He always saves this volunteer position in the presentaiton for the men!
Cesare demonstrated his hand hammering embossing technique as he created a commemorative copper disk for me to take home with the date and initials of all the students. I intend to hang it next to the one from last year!
How lucky am I that this is my job, to come to Italy once a year and host an amazing group of curious artists who want to learn more about the history and culture of this beautiful country?
Stay tuned for more adventures!
for being a part of my