PIEGARO GLASS MUSEUM Umbria Italy Review – Ancient Glassworks Frozen in Time preserving medieval glass making techniques and glass antiques
Seattle transplant to Piegaro, Colleen Simpson, herself a denizen of an ancient glassworks (Antica Vetreria ), recounts the history of Piegaro’s Glass Museum, explaining—
“The glass factory of Piegaro, where the museum is today, dates back to 1292 when they were forced to go to the Island of Murano, from Venice. Two escaped and came to Piegaro and settled into the foundation walls of L’Antica Vetreria, three floors expanded in the 15th century. The Glass Museum preserves a glass works factory that was created by the noble family in the early 1800’s. Both became cooperatives in the mid-1800’s owned by the workers. The Museum factory was decommissioned in 1960 when the modern one was built, the largest in Europe....
“…Noble families from Rome owned most of the land around Piegaro and in Umbria, and their needs for finery created a market for the skillsets of seamstresses that even today are working to create works for big name couture. Just last year, five dresses of the Tom Ford Fall collection came from this area, for example. The glass artists of Piegaro were making bottles for the public and also commissions for art to many nobles in Umbria and Tuscany from 1292 into the 20th century. Piegaro's glass workers cooperative eventually found their biggest market in creating the ‘fiascos’ , Italian for flasks..”
These are what might strike most Americans as the typical chianti bottle shape and style. Simpson says that their woven covers come from reeds grown nearby Lake Trasimeno, and that the five women who make these today can create each woven bottle coverlet in ten minutes-- while they are also actively conversing.
Today there are 200 people in the town’s glass making cooperative business in a new and different facility. This glassworks was de-commissioned in 1968 and re-opened in 2009 as the Glass Museum, giving you a vivid snapshot of 13th Century methods of making glass—both glass blowing and making glass from molds. You also get to see many glass treasures, including the table service of the noble family that had owned the glassworks before it gave it to the workers, according to Simpson.
If you too love to see how things are made and how they were made in medieval times too, this is a top pick. (Editor’s Note: Read the related story -- “BEVAGNA Umbria Italy Tour Review – Medieval Immersion”.)
There are three festivals in this area each year that celebrate the art of glass making, which bring visitors from around the world to quaint and charming Piegaro. For some this might be exactly the time to visit this museum and town; for others it will likely be a time to steer clear. Colleen Simpson of the Divertimento Group is likely a good person to contact via the Antica Vetreria website to get a picture as to which timing might be best for your visit.
You can also find out more information by using Google Translator and visiting the Museo del Vetro (Glass Museum) website.