Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Welcoming Genti of Piegaro Welcome Commerce!

My village of Piegaro has a rich history and as I live here year after year, it is revealed to me through layers and layers of stories shared by my neighbors and friends.  Our own L'Antica Vetreria played one of the most important roles in Piegaro's history, the establishment of the glass making industry that has thrived for the most part for over 750 years and is still producing commercial glass in the new cooperative.  But let's back up to 840 A.D. when the lowest area of our property was the most important defensive tower and rooms within the ancient wall overlooking the valley below. 
In1292, a famous decree went out in Venice that all the glass artisans would have to pack up their ovens and locate on the island of Murano, where they are today.  Little did they know that under penalty of death, they could never leave the island, for Venice wished to have a monopoly on the emerging wealth coming from commissions of chandeliers and stained glass windows of huge villas and churches in Italy and Europe.  Two glass masters managed, with the help of Benedictine friars, to escape and landed in Piegaro.  Spotting the immense forest for fuel for their ovens and the presence of fine sand in the Nestore River, they settled within our defensive rooms and made two glass ovens.

As the history books state, "Sensing an opportunity for commerce the people of Piegaro welcomed the glass masters with open arms." The glass maestri became so famous throughout Italy that the architect, Maitani, asked them to create the intricate and elaborate mosiacs in 1312 that cover the facade of the Duomo in Orvieto. 

In the 15th century they built up three levels with glass ovens below and a large factory floor and dormitory above.  In the centuries following Piegaro began to have a warren of smaller glass factories and in the 18th century a large factory was opened

that is now a museum to the history of glassmaking, Museo del Vetro.  One can now visit the Museo and see how glass was made from the 18th through the 19th, when mechanical steam equipment was

used to the time in 1960 when the glass oven was turned off and the new factory was opened simultaneously with a puff of smoke rising from their new chimney.  Today, this factory is a beehive of activity 24 hours a day, the largest in Europe producing over 3 million, yes 3 million bottles of every kind a day.  From wine to spice to water bottles and all the Martini Rossi bottles in the world are made at the Vetreria Coopertiva Piegarese.
From 1292 when two escaping glass masters settled in our ancient property to today, the men of Piegaro are proud to carry on a thriving legacy.  More about the women's contribution another time.

Tom and I are also proud to preserve an important piece of this history in our L'Antica Vetreria when we turned a derelict abandoned 15th century factory into a luxurious Villa for guests to enjoy!

We came full circle in 2004 when we were welcomed with open arms by the new mayor and the cultural committee of Piegaro.....for "sensing and opportunity for commerce....".  Today all the villagers greet our guests with a warm Umbrian welcome each day coming and going in the piazza!
L'Antica Vetreria sits atop a mountain of glass from 750 years of glassmaking and many of our guests love to dig for ancient souvenirs. 

1 comment:

  1. Bravissimi! I love the fact that the Piegarese built a cooperative in the 1960s, in Italy this is considered as something very remarkable and respected. A great example of mutual help!