The Savonese area is home to precious handmade goods created by families of artisans who for centuries have handed down secrets, techniques, and skills from father to son. Between Albissola Marina and Albisola Superiore, Altare, and Tovo San Giacomo, take a journey through time and the artistic traditions of producing ceramics, blown glass, and monumental tower clocks.
Ceramics and maiolica in Albissola Marina
Five kilometers from Savona lies Albissola Marina, where the history of ceramic production stretches back over six hundred years. Along the seafront, visitors literally "walk" over a plein air work of art, the artists' stroll. This sequence of mosaics is assembled from five million small ceramic tesserae that reproduce celebrated artistic figures of the twentieth-century in large panels. A few steps farther along is the Casa Mazotti: a beautiful example of futurist architecture and the home and studio of the ceramicist Tullio d'Albissola, which currently houses the family business and keeps a few of his works. Not far off is the 16th century Church of Nostra Signora della Concordia (Our Lady of Harmony) in the historic center. Inside is the Adoration of the Shepherds, a maiolica ceramic panel from 1576. Before leaving the town, the Villa Faraggiana on viale Salomoni is worth a visit. Here, among gilded stuccoes and prized statues and furnishings, visitors can admire the excellent ceramic pavement in the Gallery of Seasons.
The ancient ceramics of Albisola Superiore
From Albissola Marina we continue to Albisola Superiore, just one kilometer away. Here too, ceramics enjoy a lengthy tradition that still continues today with factories in production and the Manlio Trucco Ceramics museum. Its rooms house archeological finds from the Roman era, local ceramics produced between the 15th and 19th centuries, and contemporary panels by famous artists such as Luzzati and Arturo Martini. After the museum visit, we return to Savona and take provincial road SS29 toward the ancient city of glass: Altare.
Altare, the city of glass
18 kilometers from Albisola Superiore lies Altare, a town known for centuries for its production of white (transparent) blown glass. Here, in the oratory of San Sebastiano we visit the Glass museum, where large vases and numerous valuable pieces are displayed in crystal showcases. It is a gallery of historic, artistic, and artisanal value, which witnesses the centuries old work of the master glassmakers. This art was introduced to the village in the 12th century by the Benedictine monks of Bergeggi. The fortunes and value of the glass works carries on today in the craftsmen¿s workshops and in the art galleries where unique pieces of exquisite delicacy are available for purchase.
Artisans and ancient trades in Finalborgo
From Altare, retracing the coast toward Savona, take the A10 highway to Finale Ligure. Here in Finalborgo, historic center of the city, the first Saturday and Sunday of every month you can visit the fair of old things and ancient trades. The event attracts numerous visitors and fans. For two days, stroll among the characteristic Medieval streets inside the historic 13th century walls, make a purchase, and browse through the stalls of merchandise on display: antique furniture, crafts, and typical flea market items. In the heart of the ancient capital of the Del Carretto marquisate discover numerous craft shops and splendid aristocratic buildings.
Also worth a visit are the Gavone Castle and the Basilica of San Biagio, which preserves works from the late-Renaissance and Baroque eras. In August, the whole town travels back in time a few centuries to the 15th century with its Voyage to the Middle Ages event: for a few days there is a series of shows, parades in period dress, and craft shops and taverns open where the merchants accept only the ancient coinage of the marquisate: the "finalino".
The tower clocks of Bardino Nuovo
Just behind Finale Ligure, the town of Tovo San Giacomo overlooks the Maremola Valley. Past the hamlet of Bardino Vecchio, where you can admire decorative ceramic elements of Arabic origin on the 13th century bell-tower of the Church of San Giovanni, we reach Bardino Nuovo. Here, in Piazza San Sebastiano, there is the Tower Clock Museum, which documents the history of the art of building timekeeping machines. The Begallo family, active from 1860 to 1980, decorated the bell-towers of many Italian and foreign churches. Among the rare period pieces in the museum (the oldest dates to the 17th century) and the first clock the family built, there are also complete internal mechanisms, sheaves, and numerals. But not all the elements of clock making have remained here: grand clock hands extend from the facade of the Bergallo family home-workshop - visible on the road to Magliolo - while other gears compose its railings.
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