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The Artisan Marche

The wise hands that work the materials

The Marche is a land rich with art, culture and ancient professions that have been handed down and that still exist today in artisan workshops. The strength of the regional economic model lies in these traditions, focused on the development of the small-medium enterprise, spread out in a capillary manner within the historic fabric of The Marche.

Among the oldest traditions is the working of leather, for which Tolentino is the authentic capital, it was founded in medieval times and today boasts a series of industries renowned worldwide.

Also famous worldwide is the secular processing of paper in Fabriano; the city has the Paper and Watermark Museum – where the workers, just as the ancient paper makers, turned rags into paper – and specialised shops for the sale of refined watermarks. There are various shops in the historical centre of the city where it is possible to purchase refined handmade paper items. Paper processing is also present in Pioraco that, as in Fabriano, has for centuries exploited the water of the nearby river, Potenza, for their fulling mills.

In Jesi (AN) there is the Studies and Arts of the Presses Museum, whose purpose is to document the history of typographic arts that in Jesi boasts a long tradition and to promote vocational training for those that intend to undertake a career in the activities connected to the printing of art in its various forms. The Museum is composed of a permanent exhibition that offers both examples of tools for printing (presses, cutters, pedals, lithography machines, movable type, printing plates, inks, composition bench) as well as samples of both ancient and modern volumes from the Planettiana library. The permanent exhibition is accompanied by education for schools and the creation of professional courses for the different printing techniques. In Urbino, Miniera, the Graphia Museum and the International Press Museum can both be visited. Conceived within the structure of the Corte della Miniera, it allows involving the visitor transforming the same from simply being part of the audience to a leading actor. The innovative aspect of this museum is represented by the possibility to explore the subject of printing, from its evolution and to interact in all of the stages of technical procedures and reproduction. The Marche boasts a consolidated tradition for the restoration of antique books, particularly the city of Urbino, where a school exists that is known at a national level.


Also in Fabriano is an important exhibition space, Museum of Bicycle Arts and Crafts entirely dedicated to the ancient craft on two wheels: a slice of Italian history between the Twenties and Sixties of the Twentieth century with objects, photographs and tales that take us back in time.


In the Marche, the making of musical instrumentsis also a flourishing activity, from the famous accordions in Castelfidardo, to the guitars of Recanati, to the lute making activity in Ascoli Piceno.

Famous worldwide is the International Accordion Museum in Castelfidardo (AN), located in the sixteen-century Town Hall, it collects organs, accordions and other musical instruments, evidence of an industry that has made Castelfidardo one of the main world centres for the production of accordions made in Italy, as it was pointed out in a lengthy article appearing in the New York Times in 2011. Another example is the “Oliviero Pigini” Guitar Museum in Recanati (MC), founded in 2004 thanks to a collaboration between the Municipality of Recanati and the historic manufacturer of musical instruments Eko. This space houses famous instruments such as the classic guitar of 1799, belonging to the lutist Vincenzo Ceci and the first acoustic guitars made at the end of the Fifties for the Sicilian lutists. In particular, in The Marche, it is also necessary to point out the mastery of the lute makers in Jesi and those of Ascoli Piceno, a city which continues to perpetuate this tradition, also promoting it at the International Lute Making Festival that is held yearly during the first week of July. The purpose of the event is to have people listen to good music and understand the mastery, the beauty, the art and human genius that is behind every lute.

Another fascinating itinerary is that within the province of Pesaro and Urbino, in the ancient lands of the majolica, in order to discover the characteristic amateur made plates, jugs, apothecary jars, cups, drug jars and risers, still presently manufactured by shops within the territory. Majolica was discovered in medieval times and reached its glory during the Renaissance when, thanks to the patronage of Della Rovere, between Urbino, Urbania – then Casteldurante – and Pesaro, one of the most flourishing Italian industries was developed.

The first leg is made up of the Civil Museums of Pesaro inside which is the Ceramic Museum – one of the largest in Italy with rare specimens of the most famous buildings from the Renaissance to the Eighteenth century – and the National Gallery of Urbino: the Palazzo Ducale in fact houses, amongst other masterpieces, plates from Urbino dating back to the Renaissance era. The close by city of Urbania, once Casteldurante, offers two majolica collections in the Civil Museum, with cartoons and drawings by the potters of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, only in Italy, and in the Diocesan Museum.

In Pietrarubbia, Jesi, Loreto and Ascoli Piceno it is possible to visit other museums dedicated to ceramics. In particular the one in Ascoli Piceno, the Museum of Ceramic Art, has a very large collection and contains three
hundred pieces from the period between the fifteenth and the twentieth century. The works, from collections and deposits from the Civic Gallery, tell the story of the ceramic industry in Ascoli Piceno and its relations with the most important Italian schools of manufacturing.

Another flourishing regional artistic artisan sector is that of terracotta, from Montottone in Fermano, to Fratte Rosa in Pesaro. It is in this small village that the Museum of Terracotta and Earth stands which represents the entire local manufacturing procedure starting from the acquisition of the primary materials up to the most original and valuable manufactured goods.

In the area of Pesaro- Urbino, there is also the famous Museum of Natural Colours housed in the spaces of the cloister of theAbbey of St. Michael the Archangel inLamoli, hamlet of the city of Borgo Pace (PU): an itinerary along the history of natural colours through the archived documents, a herbarium with the technical-scientific schedules regarding the main essences of dye and a research laboratory for the extraction of vegetable pigments from flowers, berries, leaves and roots.

The Museum illustrates various species of dyeing plants, among which we also find the gaudo, known for its shade of blue used by Piero della Francesca, Renaissance painter whose works can be admired in the close by National Gallery of the Marche at Palazzo Ducale of Urbino.
The processing of wrought iron is spread out over the entire region: in towns and villages it is easy to find a hand crafted light post or balcony. One of the most flourishing areas in the mentioned sector is that of Ascoli, in particular Force and Comunanza, where the modern day coppersmiths hand down a tradition learned over the centuries.

The Marche also boasts a city, Jesi, where the goldsmith's shops can be found and which are also present in Fano and Fossombrone. The T.A.M. was opened at Pietrarubbia (centre for the Artistic Treatment of Metals), in the summer of 1990 by initiative of the Municipality of Pietrarubbia and in agreement with the sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro. The Centre for years has been carrying out an important training activity for the protection and experimentation of artistic crafts connected to the processing of metals, from sculpture to jewellery. The permanent exhibit at the T.A.M.: can be visited where the most important works created by the students of the course can be viewed, through an exhibition organised during the summer.

At Offida, in Ascoli, the art of bobbin lace has been passed down for at least five centuries and every summer there is an exhibit displaying the masterpieces made by the lacemakers. In the Bobbin Lace Museum in Offida (AP) ancient and modern works are exhibited, belonging to outfits made from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The exhibition follows a typological order, from the processing techniques, to lace and its wide range of uses.

In Macerata at the Laboratory “The Canvas” by Ginesi and Varagona the art of weaving on hand looms is still practised. It the textile sector it is to be pointed out that around Cantiano and Mercatello sul Metauro, in Pesaro, rustic woollen carpets are manufactured. Famous throughout the world is also the manufacturing of furniture in particular in Pesaro, and equally widespread is the practice of restoring antique furniture, in Pollenza, Amandola, Fermo, Corinaldo and Ostra.

The processing of rattan, wicker and bamboo, is widespread in the area of Macerata that braided give life to purses, containers of various forms, knick-knacks and various furnishing elements.

Fermano, from Montappone to Massa Fermana, is the realm of handmade hats, honoured by the Hat Museum in Montappone (FM): dedicated entirely to the history of this accessory, it houses old machines dating back to 800, restored and functioning, equipment to make hats of any type and dimension: from the sombrero (146 centimetres in diameter) to a small doll hat (2 centimetres), straw hats from the nineteenth century, up to the hat of the director Federico Fellini. The exhibition includes a collection of evocative images from the period, interesting movies as well as temporary exhibitions often dedicated to hats that made history in the movies.

Very widespread in The Marche, from Cagli to Pesaro with Mastro de Pajaa, from Loreto to Recanati, is the making of wooden pipes. In Fermano there is the “Nicola Rizzi” Pipe Museum, inaugurated in 2005 with a collection of pipes coming from all over the world, some of which are extremely rare and valuable.

Not to be forgotten is the tradition of processing stone, from the travertine of Ascoli Piceno to the tradition of the stonemasons of S. Ippolito in Cagli.

In Fermano, which has always been great land of manufacturing productions, it is possible to visit the Shoe Museum Cav. Vincenzo Andolfi in Sant’Elpidio a Mare (FM). This structure is created with the intention of exploiting the enormous productive assets and, therefore, to guard a crucial part of the city's history, finding the right recognition with the presentation of an important exhibition space inside the old Convent of the Philippines, in the city centre.

Antiques are also widespread in The Marche: there are many events in the summer for antiques. From the national exhibition in Sarnano, from May to June, to the market exhibit in Fermo, in July and August, from the regional exhibit in Ostra, in August, to the Antique Expo, Restoration and Artistic Artisan Crafts in Pollenza in July. During the year, there are antique market exhibits in Fano, Pesaro, Urbino, Ancona, Recanati, Sassoferrato, Tolentino, Ascoli Piceno, Grottammare and San Benedetto del Tronto.


Useful information

Pinacoteca e Museo della Ceramica
Pesaro (PU)
Telephone: +39 0721 387541
E-mail: info(at)museicivicipesaro.it
Website: www.museicivicipesaro.it


Museo dei Colori Naturali
Lamoli, Borgo Pace (PU)
E-mail: museocolori(at)oasisanbenedetto.it
Website: www.oasisanbenedetto.it


Museo Graphia
Urbino (PU)
Telephone: +39 0722 345322
E-mail: info(at)cortedellaminiera.it
Website: www.cortedellaminiera.it


Museo della Terracotta e della Terra cruda
Fratte Rosa (PU)
Telephone: +39 0722 986530
E-mail: musei(at)terracottefratterosa.it
website: www.terrecottefratterosa.it


Museo della carta e della filigrana
Fabriano (AN)
Telephone: +39 0732 22334
E-mail: info(at)museodellacarta.com
Website: www.museodellacarta.com


Museo delle Arti e dei Mestieri in Bicicletta
Fabriano (AN)
Telephone: +39 0732 251810 E-mail: fabriano@uisp.it
Website: www.mestieriinbicicletta.it


Museo Studio delle Arti della Stampa
Jesi (AN)
Telephone: +39 0731 64272
E-mail: museostampa(at)aesinet.it
Website: www. Comune.jesi.an.it


Museo Internazionale della Fisarmonica
Castelfidardo (AN)
Telephone: +39 071 7822987
E-mail: accordionsmuseum(at)tiscali.it
Website: www.fisarmonica-castelfidardo.com


Museo della chitarra “Oliviero Pigini”
Recanati (MC)
E-mail: aria(at)fetishguitars.com
Website: www.fetishguitars.com


Museo della Calzatura Cav. Vincenzo Andolfi
Sant’Elpidio a Mare (FM)
Telephone: +39 0734 8196372
E-mail: sem(at)sistemamuseo.it
Website: www.sistemamuseo.it


Museo del Cappello
Montappone (FM)
Telephone: +39 0734760426
E-mail: info(at)comunemontappone.it
Website: www.comune.montappone.fm.it


Museo della Pipa “Nicola Rizzi”
Fermo (FM)
Telephone: +39 0734 620639
E-mail: info(at)museodellapipa.it
Website: www.museodellapipa.it


Museo dell’Arte Ceramica
Ascoli Piceno (AP)
Telephone: +39 0736298204
Website: www.ascolimusei.it
E-mail: info(at)ascolimusei.it


Museo del Merletto a Tombolo
Offida (AP)
Telephone: +39 0736 88871
E-mail: Info(at)comune.offida.ap.it
Website: www.comune.offida.ap.it


Marche Tourism
Via Gentile da Fabriano, 9 - 60125 Ancona, Italy
Tel. +39 071 8062316- 8062410
Fax +39 071 8062318
e-mail: comunicazione.turismo(at)regione.marche.it
Web: www.turismo.marche.it
Facebook: www.facebook.com/marche.tourism
Twitter: @MarcheTourism
Issu: issuu.com/turismomarche
Flick: www.flickr.com/photos/turismomarche

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