Oh, My! What a Fiasco!

June 7, 2012 / Local Interest
Piegaro, Umbria
In some circles a fiasco is an utter and humiliating failure. In the glassmaking village of Piegaro it is a source of great pride; it is the name of the traditional woven straw covered wine bottles.

The men of Piegaro were masters of blowing the fine glass bottles and because the bottoms were round they needed something as a base, hence the evolution of the woven straw jacket. The women of Piegaro still carry on this tradition of weaving the straw fiaschi today.

The Museo del Vetro of Piegaro displays many fiaschi, over 750 years of glassmaking and straw weaving! The patterns are as varied as the weaver, each of whom would be famous for her particular weaving style.

Nowadays, friends Peppina, Maria and Silvana sit in the piazza in the summer evenings with a long bag of straw at their feet deftly twirling the strands to create an indestructible line of straw, pulling it through with a long needle. They will happily give you a beautiful souvenir of Piegaro for a small donation to the Borgo.

Visitors to Piegaro, old and young alike, enjoy learning this medieval tradition from “le belle donne della piazza”!

Colleen Simpson

by Colleen Simpson

Colleen followed a long-held dream and made a home in Piegaro, which is a pristine medieval glass-making village south of Lago Trasimeno in Umbria. She is the innkeeper at www.anticavetreria.net.

15 Responses to “Oh, My! What a Fiasco!”

  1. Evanne

    What a great story! We’ve been collecting the green bottles themselves for years and love them. We also love the happy woman in the last photo. Strangely, we just drove home from an area quite near you on this very day, Colleen, while looking outside Perugia for a shop to make iron tables in which to insert some of my ceramic fantasies. We’d love to meet you one day.

    Reply
    • Colleen Simpson
      Colleen Simpson

      Evannne: Stop by Piegaro or email me via my website and we will show you around! Would love to connect!

      Reply
  2. Roberta

    Love learning about these very local traditions! Thank you!!

    Reply
    • Colleen Simpson
      Colleen Simpson

      Roberta: So happy that you like the story about our local traditions. Piegaro is a small village that is proud of its history and keeping the traditional arts alive!

      Reply
  3. Gale in CT

    Thank you for this wonderful peek into another ancient Italian custom. Did anyone else notice the stylish footwear on one of the straw weavers? Gotta love it!! :-)

    Reply
    • Colleen Simpson
      Colleen Simpson

      Gale: Glad you liked this peek into Piegaro’s ancient tradition of weaving the fiasco!

      Reply
  4. Giuseppe Spano
    Giuseppe Spano

    Oh yes, and how many of the old Italian/American restaurant have adorned the table with such a bottle and candle

    Reply
  5. Iris Mathewson

    Such a lovely story Colleen and I truly miss seeing le belle donne della piazza, miss you and Piegaro! You and Piegaro are in my heart!

    Reply
  6. Gian Banchero

    Great photo of the bis nonna, she could have been each of my nonne or one of my ancient zie; che goia!!! Grazie Colleen!

    Reply
  7. I’ve seen these since I was a little girl. I never before realized the handiwork that went into these charming bottles. I love this story. Thank you for sharing it. I bookmarked your website and hope to visit someday.

    Reply
  8. Dennis Gardner-McTaggart

    I apologise as I know this is not directly connected. When we lived in Bolsena, in Alto Lazio, there was an old boy who used to sit on his door step weaving demigiani in wicker which he collected himself in the woods.
    His work was beautiful but, as he demanded payment in advance and enjoyed a glass of wine(or two), the work took a considerable length of time and one had to suffer the wrath of is wife who had to chase him out of the various cantine that he was fond of frequenting and as far as she was concerned it was our fault because the money we paid him made this possible.

    Reply
  9. Colleen Simpson
    Colleen Simpson

    Dennis: What a great story! I can just see his wife chasing him out of the cantine with a wicker switch. Grazie for the humor!

    Reply
  10. Herb Klinker

    Colleen, I read this article, and wanted to visit Piegaro while we stayed in Montepulciano this month. Today, we came to Piegaro and found it beautiful. As my wife sat in the shade of a small park, I wandered down a short vicolo. I must have looked lost, as a helpful Americano said, “May I help you?” It was Tom! He showed us your wonderful property, and after the tour recommended the “L’osteria di Juni” for lunch. It was a special treat. Tom told us about “Texas Gianni” and we are going to contact him on Monday to learn more about his properties. Thank you for your words, they just may have changed our lives!

    Reply
  11. we have just discovered a small bottle like this. it is clearly blown as there are no seams. it is a little uneven and it has a few bubbles in it. we found it at the site of an old (over 300 years) Somerset house. no idea how long the bottle had been buried there it was in or under a ‘garden’ wall. I think its too old to be a soda bottle tho maybe too small to be a fiasco – do you know what sizes they been in the past?

    Reply

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