Walking down along the lovely Via Francesco Crispi in the Puglia town of Grottaglie Italy, I thought maybe I had a little too much pasta and limoncello at lunch. Everywhere I looked – every store in this famous centre for ceramiche grottaglie – seemed to be owned by someone whose last name was Fasano. It’s vaguely, kind of, reminiscent of Ray’s Pizza in New York City. There is the Original Ray’s, the Famous Ray’s and the just plain, old Ray’s pizza..all doing the same thing – slinging pies with slightly different toppings. Same here! In the Quartiere di Italian Ceramics, is there one massive kiln hidden away cranking out pots for everyone?? How do you know which was really the first? I just don’t know the answer and don’t think I ever will.
They’ve been making ceramiche grottaglie here since the beginning of time, thanks to the abundant red clay in the heel of Italy’s boot Pughlia and the Fasano’s seemed to have cornered the market. In a space of one street, there are “botteghe” belonging to Nicola, Cinzia, Antonio, Enza, Francescao & Giuseppe!
What is great is they all produce a different example of ceramiche grottaglie, something slightly different, so take the time to wander in and check out what each has to offer. We made a mad dash through each store as we had spent too much time over the already mentioned lunch at the delicious Da Ricci in the wonderfully named town of Ceglie Messapica. It was tough to try and not touch anything, but we were constantly aware of the “You Break It, You Buy It” rule governing the town.
Of all the Fasano’s, Nicola is probably the most famous of the Fasano clan, selling his ceramiche grottaglie throughout Italy and abroad. I was assured that my local Conran Shop in London had some plates on hand and I wasn’t disappointed to see a few of my favorite designs of his represented there.
Now I know if I want a Best Bit of Puglia Italy, I can run down the street and visit the Fasano’s!
Just to confuse you even more, there is a famous Italian DJ named Nicola Fasano as well!
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