The origins of the town go back to ancient times. When Perugia conquered the territory in the 12th century, Deruta was transformed into a border fortress to defend Perugia against Todi and other potential enemies, but by the 13th century Deruta had its own statute and governed itself independently. The 14th and 15th centuries were periods of great upheavals with alternating dominations, destruction and large-scale plagues. Domination by the Baglioni family from Perugia in 1500 was the start of the reconstruction of most of the town and meant that Deruta was able to rise from its ashes.
During the Salt War in 1540, Deruta sided with the Roman Catholic Church, which went on to win the war and rewarded the town by exonerating it from paying taxes for many years. From that time on it was part of the Papal States until the Unification of Italy. From mid 1500 the town enjoyed a long period of peace that coincided with an all-time peak in majolica production that made Deruta famous all over the world.
The local clay was good for ceramics, whose production began in the Early Middle Ages, but found its artistic peak in the 15th and early 16th century, with highly characteristic local styles. In the 16th century Deruta produced the so-called “Rafaellesco” ware, decorated with fine arabesques and grottesche on a fine white ground. Deruta has over 200 ceramic workshops, most of which retail their own goods along with other retail shops which display and sell pottery products.
Art and Culture
To be seen in the historical town centre is the San Michele Arcangelo city-gate, with traces of the ancient city walls to the sides. The polygonal fountain was constructed by the Quinqueviri, public bankers, in 1848. Piazza dei Consoli opens out shortly beyond and features the Palazzo Comunale, town hall, that houses the Art Gallery containing an important collection of paintings from the churches of San Francesco and Sant'Antonio.
In front of the municipal building is the church of San Francesco in Gothic style. Next to this is the ex-convent, founded in 1008 by Benedictine monks and later given to the Franciscans, where the magnificent ceramics from the archaic period to today can be admired. Noteworthy is the church of Sant'Antonio Abate that contains significant frescoes by Bartolomeo and Gian Battista Caporali.
In the vicinity can be seen the Santuario della Madonna dei Bagni, which contains an extraordinary collection of ceramic tile votive offerings made by the locals over the last four centuries. Worth a visit are Castellone and the ruins of the Casalina castle.
Cities and “borghi” +
The villages, “borghi”, of Umbria are small splendid masterpieces on a human scale: squares, castles, churches, bell towers, landscapes, festivals, typical products and unique stories.
Along with Deruta, there are many towns which belong to the so-called “Borghi più belli d'Italia”. Everybody knows the famous, monumental cities Assisi, Perugia, Gubbio and Orvieto. Here I name a few gems to visit during your stay in Casa “Le tre Muse”. But every “borgo” in the surroundings is worthwhile a visit.
Trevi is a small town on a hillside in the heart of the Umbria region of Italy, and is rich in history and art.
Trevi was originally a province of the Papal States, but as in other cities in Umbria political power was actually exercised by a small number of noble families and it was these families that gave much of the artistic and cultural heritage to the town we see today.
The town is famous for its good olive oil and celery.
This town is nestled on the southern flank of Mount Subasio, between Assisi and Foligno. Winding medieval streets, old churches and rich architecture are testimonials of its environmental, cultural and artistic heritage.
In summer, the warm weather perfectly showcases the honey-coloured houses and the never-ending florals. You can literally smell the freshness of the flowers in the air.
The ancient town centre of Umbrian origin, “Hispellum” dates from the first century BC. It shows important and impressive evidence of the Roman period which coexists beautifully with today's medieval urban appearance.
Located in southeastern Umbria, Spoleto is one of the region's most fascinating art towns. Its wealth of history, varied cultural heritage and important arts events make it one of the tourist destinations most highly esteemed by visitors.
As an important fortified Umbrian settlement, Spoleto became a Roman colony. After the fall of the Roman empire, it was taken over by the Byzantines. In the early Middle Ages, it was conquered and destroyed by Frederick Barbarossa. Testimonials are the medieval fortress and the Roman aqueduct and amphitheatre.
Like something out of a fairytale, Todi is perched on a hilltop high above the winding River Tiber. There is a great deal of art to enjoy; Todi and the surrounding region have a wealth of art among the richest of Italy.
It's worth tasting the local wines such as the “Grechetto” and “Trebbiano” wines, which were already known in ancient times.
Castiglione del Lago
Castiglione del Lago is a pretty village on a peninsula on the western shores of Lake Trasimeno, towards the north-east of the Umbria region of central Italy.
The territory was originally subject to rule by the Etruscans and Romans, then from the 13th century the town had a great strategic importance because it controlled the roads that went from Rome to Florence. Most of the early defensive walls around the town can still be seen today.
Umbria and history +
Il cuore verde d'Italia
In literature, Umbria is referred to as Il cuore verde d'Italia or The green heart of Italy. The phrase is taken from a poem by Giosuè Carducci, the subject of which is the source of the Clitunno River in Umbria.
Umbria is an untouched, luscious paradise, with only countryside surroundings and no interloping of other country borders or the coast. It is admired as a tranquil version of the beautiful and charming region of Tuscany and has become a desired destination for those seeking something unique.
Located in central Italy, Umbria gained its name from the Umbri, an ancient tribe of people who settled in the area around the 6th century BC. The towns Perugia and Orvieto belonged to the Etruscan territories. Whereas Gubbio was the heart of Umbrian living. It was not long before the region caught the attention of the colonising Romans, and they began taking over the area with the competition of the Etruscans. After the decline of the Roman empire, the region was invaded by the Barbarians.
The political power-gap of the Middle Ages was satisfied by the Lombards who created the Duchy of Spoleto from the 6th century up until the 13th century when Umbria became part of the Papal State. The city of Perugia enjoyed a certain autonomy, much to the distaste of successive popes. One of the luxuries afforded to the city was tax-free salt. The sudden introduction of a salt tax by Pope Paul III caused rebellion. The Pope sent troops into the city, forcing a surrender.
Peace and beauty now reside in the sleepy region of Umbria, a strong contrast to its turbulent history. The breathtaking scenery makes it to a desirable holiday destination to visit.
Umbria is Home to Many UNESCO Sites. These include Assisi, the church of San Damiano, L’eremo delle Carceri, the Santuary of Rivotorto and its historical landscape, the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli and Palazzo del Capitano, the church of San Salvatore in Spoleto and the Tempietto del Clitunno. I suggest you visit these significant sites as they will be one of the highlights of your trip.
Mountains and lake +
Monti Sibillini and Pian Grande
The Monti Sibillini is one of the most beautiful areas of Italy nestled between Umbria and Le Marche. The national park of the Sibillini is dotted with medieval hamlets, gorgeous forests and stunning panoramas. Here you’ll not find hordes of tourists like in other regions of Italy, so there is no better reason to discover this magical and low-key area of the country.
One of the best things to do in the park is to reach Mount Sibilla and ask the locals about the ancient legend of the area. Sibilla has been known since the Middle Ages as a land of fairies, demons and magic linked to the Prophetess Sibyl, who is said to have lived in the homonymous mount.
The Pian Grande is a large plain to admire in the springtime when grass and flowers bloom. It is ringed by the slope of the massif’s highest point of Sibillini mounts, the Vettore Mount. You can hike it and reach the top to admire the valleys and rivers below.
Italy’s fourth largest lake
Lake Trasimeno is a beautiful lake situated in the region of Umbria. It is surrounded by atmospheric castles and charming medieval towns including Passignano and Castiglione del Lago. Small but unique vineyards also line the lake and are a fantastic find for some special wines that can only be produced in the micro-climate of the lake.
The lake offers fish restaurants along the shore, where you can eat local fish. The sportier can hire a (sailing) boat or swim in the mild water.
You should definitely make a ferry trip to one of the islands. Here, some beautiful historic surprises are awaiting you. It is well possible to stroll around, have a wonderful lunch or take an ice-cream, before sailing back to the shore.
Oil and wine +
Olive oil tradition
In Umbria, the Olive Oil tradition has very ancient origins. It is supposed that the Etruscans were the first to start the cultivation of the olive tree, which developed largely during the Roman Empire, when many patricians chose the Umbrian lands as their country villas.
Traditionally, olives are harvested either by hand or with the help of a shaker, then washed and crushed within 12 hours later. The extraction is carried out with a continuous oil mill, called a "frantoio". Umbrian oil makes up only about 2 percent of Italy’s olive oil production but wins a far larger proportion of awards.
The most famous winery in Umbria is the Lungarotti Winery that sits near the border of Tuscany. The winery was responsible for the first DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) of the region, as it ramped up the production and quality standards in the 1960s. The DOC label on wine ensures a certain quality is being met. The winery pays homage to the region’s traditions with a wine and olive oil museum and a foundation for the land’s agricultural traditions. The neighbour town of Deruta, Torgiano, has a winery museum which tells all about its history.
One should not forget to taste another famous wine: the Montefalco Sagrantino. This outstanding, ruby wine comes from wineries in the surroundings of Montefalco. When you stay in Casa “Le tre Muse”, it is only a short ride to visit this idyllic town.
More resources +
This is the official website of the Umbria Region for tourism. It contains a vast overview of cultural places, villages, religious sites and UNESCO heritage in the whole region. Find events, experiences, excursions, hand-crafts, nature parks and much more. You can plan your trip here and find out how to get and move in Umbria and create your itinerary through the Umbrian wonders.
This Association selects a tourist network of excellence, composed of towns appearing under a common brand name and logo, whose activity in tourist welcoming, maintenance and development is continuously monitored. Deruta is listed in this network. On their website you find, besides an overview of the “Borghi più belli”, events, experiences and a guide.