Over the Moon and More in Tuscany

Left Hand = Michigan

This past October, I was one of the many potters that attended the Potters Council trip to Tuscany. The attendees  included potters, clay artists, non potters, spouses and friends. My husband Brad gave up duck hunting for this trip of a life time. My travel mates represented Australia, England, South Africa, Brazil, Canada, Singapore, Israel, New Zealand, Texas, California, Georgia, Washington and Florida. Being from Michigan, I constantly pointed to my left hand to show them where I lived! This was an amazing group of people to be with for 14 days. Marcia Selsor lead the group with great expertise and knowledge.

The purpose of the trip was to study architectural elements at La Meridiana, International Ceramic school with guest instructor Marcia Selsor. Also, owner and potter Pietro Maddalena introduced us to Buchchero or “Black” firing process during the second week of the trip.

We stayed in Florence for three nights in a convent that hosts travelers in a beautiful and safe setting. Our room was on the second floor (8 flights of steps) without a personal bathroom. But there were plenty of rest rooms available when needed. It was a great experience, who needed a bathroom, I was in Italy!

The first morning we walked to the Bargello Museum through the beautiful streets, taking in all the sites and snapping wonderful photographs. We arrived in the Palazzo near the Duomo, and as I was in the middle of the  square I realized that I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. I can’t describe the feeling but as I turned I saw 18′ sculptures everywhere by Michelangelo, Donatello, and della Robbia. I was overcome with a flood of emotions. To my surprise tears ran down my cheeks. I had instant recall from all of my art history classes so many years ago. Watching over 100 slides a class, yup it paid off! This set the tone for a very meaningful, and emotional trip of a life time. As I was wiping the tears away, Marcia leans over and says “I want to stand next to you when we San Vitale.”

Pistoia, Piza, Faenza and Ravenna all held beautiful sights, history, museums, artist studios, great food, wine and the best beer ever. I took 100’s of photographs and used 10 batteries capturing the beauty of each minute. Pizza is probably one of my most favorites so I ate whole pies every day I could. Brad, not fond of any Italian food was lucky to find ham and cheese sandwiches and some great gelato. We were sitting in a small cafe, eating when tears appeared again and Brad asked “What’s wrong?” All I could say was “I’m eating pizza in Italy!” It just doesn’t get any better than that.

La Meridiana is where dreams come true in clay. So many wonderful instructors, workshops, demos, and pottery from awesome potters. I learned so many things and have brought back so many ideas to keep me going.

This trip has made a huge impact on my life. Wonderful friends, stories, adventures that I will continue to post about in the future. I know I will return to Florence and La Meridiana within the next couple of years. If I play my cards right, I hope to move there and stay a very long time.

In front of the Duomo - Florence

By Deborah J. Bassett-Maxwell

Graduate of Kendall College of Design, Grand Rapids, MI Owner of Red Mudd Studio, Kimball, MI

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