Friday, October 25, 2013


'IVLIA BELLA' (tr. Julia the Beautiful)
Lover's Cup, Casteldurante, first half of the XVI th century, private coll. 

In the Renaissance period in Italy gentlemen started the tradition of offering ceramic gifts as a token of  their love and devotion and to celebrate their bethrotal and any important event in the couple's married life. They were called 'Loving Cups': round ceramic plates with the portrait of the bride to be and a flying ribbon with the young lady's name and bella (beautiful) or gentile (kind) inscribed on the ceramic ornament. 
Sometimes the 'Lover's cup' had a painted portrait of the couple. There could also be a written dedication on the ribbon, a saying or a proverb. 
'UN BEL VOLTO VALE PIU' CHE SENO E ROBA' (tr. A beautiful face is worth more
than breast and possessions),  Lover's cup, Casteldurante,
first half of the XVI the century  (Hermitage Museum)

The ceramic lover's cup tradition started in Casteldurante, Italy at the end of the 15th century. Casteldurante was a  famous Renaissance ceramic town located in Le Marche region, known nowadays as Urbania. Soon after this tradition expanded to my ceramic home town, Deruta. 

Ceramicists had ceramic ladies' portrait samples available in their workshops and lover's cups were made upon special orders by additing custom made dedications to the selected model. As simple as that. 
'OGINI TEN [...] IENE CHI PO' (tr. ?)  Lover's cup, Casteldurante, 1530-1540 (Hermitage Museum)

In Deruta and other ceramic towns in Italy the 'Lover's cup' tradition lasted until the 18th century. Lover's cups were commonly known as 'BELLAs plates'. This may be the reason why it was said that men used to come to Deruta to meet their brides. What was the reason for choosing Deruta? After all there are beautiful young ladies everywhere in Italy and in the rest of the world. It must be some kind of heritage of the BELLA plates. This must the reason. It must be it. 

This thought came to my mind when I met my beloved last year in January with about a thirty years delay. I told him that it was not his fault, he was not informed about this Deruta tradition as he originally comes from Northern Italy: he should have driven towards the river Tiber instead of driving the opposite direction. This is what traditions are for, they make life easier. I was lucky to move to Piegaro and find him myself. I am glad it is never too late and time is a state of mind. Places aren't and I feel lucky that Fortune brought me here at last.                                                                                                                                                                          


Original Posts by Roberta Niccacci -

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