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Artisan Workshops


Wicker baskets from the banks of the Tiber
If you take the road to Viaio, you will undoubtedly notice a country school house surrounded by fields. Here an artisan family is keeping up a century old tradition of basket working with wicker collected from the river banks. Here the Luzzi family since 1873 developed and perfected their craft so that they now supply a market far beyond not only the boundaries of Anghiari but the borders of Italy too.

The wicker or willow stems are cultivated along the river banks and gathered in February. They are soaked for two months and then the bark is stripped off. When it has dried out it is tied up in huge bunches and is ready for the basket makers to start work. First they interlace some spokes or ribs to make the basic frame for the bottom of the basket and then they go on with the weaving of the wicker till the top border. This work requires a great deal of experience and skill. Soaking the wicker makes the stems flexible and soft so it is possible to keep up a continuous production of containers of all kinds, chairs, stools, household items and the beautiful baskets of Anghiari.

Besides the 'business' of basketry there is also the work of Prof. Giuseppe Tofani who is an expert on local traditions and culture, particularly that of the countryside and who creates not only very special 'useful' articles but also real live statues made from wicker work.

The colour of woad (guado)

Woad is another product which was valuable in the past and was consequently exported as well as being put to local use. It was a traditional colour extracted from a plant cultivated throughout the Tiber Valley so that, unlike other dyes, guado or woad did not need to be imported.

Fabrics dyed with this plant took on the colour of indigo, but the success of the dye was mainly due to the fact that the plant was very small and could be seeded in Spring giving five crops a year (as well as being a good compost for the soil).

The leaves of the plant were ground in an oil-press and turned into a kind of paste. The paste was left to stand for some days and then dried in the form of loaves. When the woad was required it was dissolved in boiling water like soap. One of the oldest dyers in the area was at Tavernelle, a little village just outside Anghiari. Unfortunately the arrival of synthetic dyes made this kind of natural production disappear.

The cloth of Anghiari

One of the most important traditions in Anghiari is the art of weaving. The commercial production of cloth and lace started at the end of the 1700's with the idea of organising the weaving of the sheep's wool and the hemp that was cultivated near peoples homes.

The Busatti family, even though they came from Valdarno quickly became an accepted part of Anghiari society as they were considered hard working tradesmen. The Busatti textile tradition was developed primarily by Livio Busatti who, at the beginning of the twentieth century, decided to distribute the textile work to the many farms and homes that had their own looms in the countryside around Anghiari. He established a small workshop and began the first commercial network which has taken the Busatti brand name into more than fifty shops all over the world.

After the Second World War the new economic era forced Livio Busatti's heirs to take a radical decision. Busatti chose to enter the new market with a high quality fabric made exclusively of natural fibres like hemp, linen and cotton, drawing on traditional designs and colours.

Thus we can see the colours of the artisan world of the past, the green of market gardeners, the brown of the shoe-makers and so on, but also tablecloths inspired by designs such as the terracotta creations of Andrea della Robbia.

Everyday objects such as tablecloths, napkins, curtains and covers become real works of art.

The pottery-makers of Anghiari

Many families in Anghiari have still got cooking-pots, dishes or hand-warmers (this latter in three different types-old, florentine and ribbed) made in the now extinct tradition of Anghiari pottery-makers. The typical characteristic of this production was in the colour, obtained by grinding up a particular black rock containing manganese, easily found around Anghiari.

After firing, the clay products were decorated with a varnish made up of water and the manganese, red or black tints that gave the pottery its characteristic look. Production developed in Anghiari during the 17 th century, gaining its greatest success in the 19 th.

The tradition is now extinct but there is a project to restart manufacture in a permanent exhibition of Anghiari's ceramics.

The Guns of Anghiari and the armourer's tradition

In the 1960's it was discovered that many documents kept in the Archives of the Town Hall showed that Anghiari was once an important centre for the production of fire arms.

The discovery allowed the reattribution of many guns which had been thought to have been made in Brescia in northern Italy. This included guns in many important collections in Italy and abroad, from Windsor to Paris, from London to Chicago. The attribution was made more certain by the fact that some of the articles were signed by their makers and sometimes this was followed by the name of Anghiari.

The guns from Anghiari are distinguished by the fineness of the damask engraving on the mechanical parts. This traditional method consists of obtaining a polychrome effect by encrusting precious metals onto an appropriately engraved base metal. The most important names of armourers in Anghiari were Favilla, Guardiani, Cerboncelli, Matassi, Vallini, Miccioni, Vagnetti and Maso di Fama.

In 1968 a major exhibition of Anghiari firearms held in the Taglieschi Museum brought this art and tradition back to the attention of the world.


the battle of anghiari

history of a corner of tuscany

cultural activities


historical centre
castles and villas
churches and convents
francescan places
industrial archeology
services and activities


the waterways
the sovara valley
nature reserves
itinerary of the nature
la fabbrica della natura


antique markets
Art and trades

the workshops of the historical centre

the artisans fair


the crossover of tastes between the borders

the tiber valley flavours road

i centogusti dell'appennino




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