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    Ceramics and ham in Este

    An itinerary about 45 minutes by car south of Padua, to discover Este's crafts, history and good food.

    It begins with a walk towards the historic center. Entering the village you can discover the walled city and its cultural, natural and architectural beauties, including the Carrarese Castle,  built around 1339 on the ashes of the Este family. At the top of the hill you can see the keep, from which the walls start to form a polygon surrounded at regular intervals by towers and the restored Castelletto del Soccorso. Today the inside of the castle is used as a public garden.

    In Este, the production of various types of ceramics has been present since the early days of its foundation. At the dawn of civilization, when the original characteristics of what would become Veneto were emerging, Este had developed a production that would have accompanied it without interruption over the centuries.

    Not far from the Castle you will find the National Archaeological Museum Atestino , which is located in the sixteenth-century Palazzo Mocenigo  along the pre-existing bastions of the Castello dei Carraresi  and preserves terracotta finds dating back to 4000 BC, alongside significant traces of a production dating back to the medieval and Renaissance periods and probably intended mainly for the local population.
    The raw material is not far away, the wood to feed the fires of the ovens and even the water. This combination of favorable causes, combined with the use of waterways for transport, opens up the prospect of a wider market for production. Thanks to its channel, in fact, Este is part of the dense communication network that allows the Veneto hinterland to exchange goods and raw materials with a large area, but above all with the lagoon.

    In the rooms of the museum there are in fact important prehistoric evidence of the use of terracotta for the creation of domestic and funeral objects. But the eighteenth century was the golden age of ceramics, thanks to the discovery in Europe of the secret of porcelain, until then the prerogative of Chinese craftsmen. Este ceramics are unique in the world in terms of materials and workmanship and are still made by hand in three ways today: with the lathe, casting or using presses. After construction, the product must be passed in the oven where it becomes a "biscuit". At the end of cooking it is ready to be decorated. Among the most characteristic decorations of Este ceramics, fruit and vegetables stand out, according to the most classic tradition.

    But how do you work with ceramics now? A few hundred meters from the Museum it is possible to visit Este Ceramiche Porcellane manufacture from the eighteenth century , an ancient manufacture of ceramics and porcelain, located near the eighteenth-century theater and the Duomo and overlooking the canal that led to Venice. Here you can rediscover ancient arts and crafts as the factory, still active today, continues to offer its ancient and modern creations, favoring an old workshop style.

    We are in the eighteenth century and Girolamo Franchini , esteemed goldsmith and engraver, launched himself into the production of fine ivory earthenware for use in England which could be immediately covered with transparent varnish, as he himself points out in 1784. This work was very fashionable in Italy between 1770 and 1775.

    In 1955 it was the passion that pushed Giovanni Battista Giorgin i to acquire the ancient ceramic manufacture in the historic center of Este. It is not difficult to imagine how this Florentine aristocrat, a refined esthete, may have been struck by the charm of the place, as well as by the creative possibilities that opened up to his horizon. Passionate lover of the beauty of his city and his country, he launched Italian high fashion in the world, promoting and organizing the first fashion shows in Florence in 1951, first in his palace in the Torrigiani garden and then in Palazzo Pitti. From that moment art, fashion and comic design to approach, first conceptually and then contextually, until they become valuable artefacts and artistic excellences appreciated all over the world.

    Finally, you can end the day in one of the bars or delicatessens scattered around the city, where you can taste the typical ham of these areas, the  Prosciutto Veneto Berico-Euganeo (DOP). In this production, only pig legs of the Heavy Pig Padano variety of at least 9 months of age are used, so that they have exceeded 150 kg of body weight. At the end of the processing, which lasts about a year, the ham weighs between 8 and 11 kilos. The specification describes the characteristics of the Venetian ham: "pink color tending to red in the lean part, pure white in the fat part, with a delicate, sweet and fragrant aroma". The brand of the consortium for protection, the winged lion of St. Mark, is burnt.

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