The typical crafts of Ferrara are not just a few decades old – they go back to the Renaissance or even the Middle Ages, one example being ceramica graffita (scratched pottery).
It is the result of a peculiar engraving technique that involves scratching pots and plates with an iron-tipped stylus. The engravings are then decorated with basic colours that fuse and fade during the firing process, creating fascinating chromatic effects.
Traditional designs include lovers, portraits of young courtiers of the Este court, unicorns, carnations and elegant leaf patterns. To learn more about this technique, you can enrol in a half-day course (and take home your own masterpiece), or watch an expert potter work for a couple of hours.
The art of ceramica graffita was so rooted in the Renaissance that the court of Duke Alfonso D’Este was the first in Italy to replace gold and silver tableware with ceramics.
Other handicrafts, particularly appreciated by collectors, include wood sculptures and wickerwork made from paviera (a reed that grows in the marshes and canals of the Po delta): mats, pieces of furniture, baskets or floating duckshaped hunting decoys
THE MARKETS OF FERRARA
Every Sunday, Ferrara comes alive with small markets that sell a bit of everything. Check out the stalls in Piazza Trento e Trieste (every week except August) and mix with the locals looking for bargains. Info: Tel. +39 (0)532/299.303 - 419.474 www.ferrarainfo.com