We reached San Lorenzello together with Anna De Sisto, our guide to discover the most authentic Sannio during the presstour tailor-made for us by PugliaCampania & Co.
Visit to the village and to the Bottega N. Giustiniani
The village lies at the foot of the mountain of Cerreto and the Acero and Erbano mountains covered with woods. Walking through the town center, you lose track of time and if it weren’t for the rare cars that passing the bridge over the Titerno parade along the main road it would seem to live in another era.
We can only imagine how nice it would be, as an antique lover, to wander among the stalls of the Mercantico, the fair that takes place every Sunday at the end of the month in the ancient and characteristic craft shops located along via Roma and via Sorripe.
The master ceramist Elvio Sagnella told us about it and led us to the discovery of San Lorenzello, also famous across the border for its refined artistic ceramics and also for the m’scuott, the smooth or twisted taralli that we tasted in one of the oldest kilns in the borgo, the Biscottificio Barbieri which honored us with a ‘nzerta, a “necklace” of exquisite tarallucci.
But in this story of the Incontri column, as well as presenting the village embellished with ceramic advertisements on the walls, we want to talk to you about the one who welcomed us in his workshop, in his shop-window and even in his house, introducing us to the history of ceramic area between Cerreto Sannita and San Lorenzello.
We want to tell you about the master Elvio Sagnella and his wonderful ceramic creations. We witnessed live the creation of an albarello by the same artist on the wheel while his son was intent on painting a work already baked and ready to be decorated.
And we literally “drank” his words while he told us his personal story and that of his country. Destined to become a carpenter like his father, he was instead put in the workshop of a master ceramist, honoring the tradition of San Lorenzello, a city of ceramics founded after the earthquake that in 1688 destroyed Cerreto Sannita, an ancient county town. The nearby town was rebuilt in a very short time becoming the eighteenth-century architectural jewel that it is still today and that we plan to visit next time.
While in San Lorenzello the “majolica” artisan shops were located both for the presence of the clay and for its exposure that allowed the clay to be dried in the sun to make it lose excess water. Among the potters who came from Naples, the Giustiniani opened their workshop here, those who not only gave prestige to the local pottery but also defined its identity.
As Elvio explains to us, the technique is totally different from those of Vietri or Faenza, while for the delicate and elegant designs and colors it approaches the Laterza ceramics with the same care in the landscapes and ornamental motifs.
We have looked closely, in the atelier of the master Sagnella called Bottega Nicola Giustiniani in honor of those who began to make known the precious Laurentine ceramics of which he feels direct heir, the holy water fonts, the plates, the tureens and the albarelli, both to be decorated that ready and stacked neatly on the shelves. In the family-run shop opened in 1998 with great sacrifices, today there are five ovens for creations of all sizes that need 20 hours between cooking and cooling.
The exciting tour in time and in the history of ceramics continued in the village in the ancient Bottega Giustiniani that Elvio, with further sacrifices, bought when it was put up for sale: a sort of squaring of the circle that confirmed the fate of official heir of the master potters of the eighteenth century.
Today this is his suggestive showroom where his latest works are also exhibited, the result of a production in a modern key with art objects with particular shapes made on the lathe and remodeled, innovative colors and luminous flashes of metal enamels.
Here the new and the old merge and the artistic creations are also on display in the glass cases where the colors of the eighteenth-century palette predominate, from intense yellow to orange, from manganese to turquoise blue, from green in all their range to ramina, the copper green of medieval origin, one of the most ancient colors of San Lorenzello ceramics. This nuance obtained with copper oxide is the one that most attracted us for its precious green-blue glazes that make the master’s works even more seductive.
And it is really a splendid tureen in this delicate and at the same time hypnotic color that the master Elvio has given us: for me not only the realization of a desire I had for some time, but also a great honor to be able to admire this precious artifact on the sideboard of home.
Who daily reminds me how strong the power of dreams can be: that frail boy sent little more than a teenager to a ceramist to learn the trade, studying and perfecting his art, he realized his. Today the master Elvio Sagnella has relaunched through his workshop dedicated to the ceramist Nicola Giustiniani, who in the eighteenth century defined the style of San Lorenzello, the artistic ceramics and his works are in the most beautiful churches of Campania and two of his majolica panels are placed in the portico of the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth.
Bottega N. Giustiniani di Elvio Sagnella
Via San Donato, 20 – San Lorenzello (BN)
Via Giustiniani, 26 – San Lorenzello (BN)
Info: +39 0824 861700 – +39 329 1085133
www.bottegagiustiniani.it – firstname.lastname@example.org