As we drive toward Deruta on a sunlit morning, the sienna-hued town of Spoleto recedes behind us. The surrounding hills are a moss green dotted with butter yellow sunflowers. The colors of this Umbrian landscape are perfectly reflected in majolica, the ceramicware for which this region is known and which I'm en route to see. My guide is Carol LeWitt, an American and part-time Spoletan, and for her majolica is both a passion and a business.
The passion came first. LeWitt discovered majolica almost 20 years ago, when she and her husband, the renowned conceptual artist Sol LeWitt, were setting up the kitchen of the rustic farmhouse they had just bought in Umbria. "We didn't have dishes," Sol says, "so we went to a store in Rome, and we liked these plain white dishes with a blue line on them. And the owner said he didn't have enough, but why didn't we just go to Deruta, where the plates are made, and meet the potters."
They went, and they were so taken with the artistry of the twice-fired, delicately painted pottery that soon Carol LeWitt and her friend Carol Huebner decided to start a company to create and sell it. Today Ceramica has six stores, the largest one in Chester, Connecticut.