Preserving the Woof & Warp of a Medieval Tradition

December 17, 2015 / Local Interest
Perugia, Umbria

In a graceful 14th century convent in Perugia, you will find Giuditta Brozzetti. Here Marta Cucchia welcomes visitors to her studio-museum dedicated to hand-woven artistic textiles.

Photo by Victoria De Maio
Photo Courtesty of Giuditta Brozzetti

Marta’s great grandmother, Giuditta Brozzetti, founded the workshop in 1921 as part of a movement to protect the craft of weaving Umbrian textiles and to encourage and support women working on their looms in workshops and homes.

Photo by Victoria De Maio
Photo by Victoria De Maio

Weaving, embroidery, and other handmade textile crafts had traditionally been produced by women working in the home.  With the revival of textile arts which spread throughout Europe at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, came initiatives to assist women in attaining some degree of economic independence by receiving monies for work completed in their home or workshops.

Photo by Victoria De Maio
Photo by Victoria De Maio

In 1931, dedicated to making “faithful reproductions of Perugian tablecloths and of patterns copied from medieval and Renaissance frescoes, fabrics, and embroidery”, Giuditta founded her workshop employing 35 weavers and commissioned women working in nearby Perugia and the countryside.

Photo by Victoria De Maio
Photo by Victoria De Maio

Manual and pedal looms were used for domestic fabrics. Heddle looms adapted to Jacquard looms were used for more complex tablecloths as well as damask, clothing and decorative fabrics.

Photo by Victoria De Maio
Photo by Victoria De Maio

The Jacquard loom introduced weaving utilizing an apparatus with perforated cards facilitating the weaving of intricately figured and brocaded fabrics. It took three (3) months to transfer intricate patterns onto the cards. They have 200 patterns and no new patterns are created today.

Photo by Victoria De Maio
Photo by Victoria De Maio
Photo by Victoria De Maio

Giuditta Brozzetti Laboratorio became a museum in 2007 and almost a century after it was founded, still uses the same 18th century looms and weaving techniques. It is also part of a Textile and Embroidery Museum Itinerary where Marta enthusiastically shares its history and legacy with regular tours.

Photo by Victoria De Maio
Photo by Victoria De Maio
Photo by Victoria De Maio

Conserving and perpetuating this artisan tradition is time and labor intensive but Marta has inherited the same dedication and passion that first inspired her to follow in the footsteps of her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.

Visit Marta at www.brozzetti.com for more inspiration!

Photo by Victoria De Maio

Victoria De Maio

by Victoria De Maio

Victoria is a lover of all things Italian! A travel advisor, blogger, writer, tour leader, and published author, she is passionate about traveling to and writing about Italy.

Her book, Victoria’s Travel Tipz Italian Style, is available on Amazon.

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16 Responses to “Preserving the Woof & Warp of a Medieval Tradition”

  1. Rosemary Connelly

    This was one of our favorite places to visit when we lived in Perugia and I’m so happy to have been able to purchase some of these gorgeous works for my home! Marta is a delight! We took all our visitors there too and everyone loved it. Thank you for reminding me of this exquisite woman and this lovely place!

    Reply
  2. Grazie Mille for this wonderful article – it is the type of place I love to visit and find when I am in Italy.
    Thank you to all the contributors for all your wonderful articles, they make my day!
    Buone Feste e Buon Principio
    Maria

    Reply
    • Victoria De Maio

      Prego Maria! It’s so gratifying to share and know that others appreciate the articles. Visiting and writing about artisans is one of my favorite subjects when I travel to Italy…
      Buone Feste!
      V.

      Reply
  3. Ginny Siggia

    I have what I think is a handwoven bedspread, and it very likely came from Sicily along with one of the great-great-grandparents in my daughter’s heritage. It fairly coarsely woven, a rugged piece in mauve and gray, a simple design. And, to my delight, completely washable. Probably by the time I got it, it had been washed by an American machine and any shrinkage had already happened. I use it for all sorts of things, as it is (by now!) indestructible.

    Reply
    • Victoria De Maio

      Ginny, that’s a very special piece…and those hand made treasures do last and are made to use. Enjoy and thank you for sharing…
      Buon Natale,
      V.

      Reply
  4. Hazel Rotondo Potvin

    I loved this article about the textiles. I would like to know more about the spinning work that women did in the mountains where the sheep were raised. My grandmother’s marriage certificate classifies her as a filatrice. She lived in the village of Calascio, Abruzzi.

    Reply
    • Victoria De Maio

      Hazel,
      I can’t say I know very much about that but you may want to go to Marta’s site or contact an artisan organization in Abruzzo for more information. A little detective work could be fun, si?
      Enjoy and thank you for sharing…
      Buon Natale,
      V.

      Reply
  5. A friend sent me this blog post and it is lovely – as are so many here. But like one of the other people who posted, I would like to learn more about the spinning of the fibers for these textiles. I assume that these are commercially spun yarns, but as I am a hand spinner, I assume that they were once made on spinning wheels by other artisans like these. On my trip to Venice some years ago, I couldn’t find anyone who could tell me about the spinning community in Italy. Who is spinning today? And where? And what are they using as fiber? And where are these fibers for these weavings coming from?

    Reply
    • Victoria De Maio

      Nora,
      Grazie for sharing – if you go to the site of Giuditta Brozzetti, you can contact Marta for additional information. There are organizations that support artisans, too. Umbria has one. My guess is that you would need to research by region. Let me know how it goes…
      Buon natale,
      V.

      Reply
      • Thanks for your reply! Alas, my Italian is limited to a few Pimsleur self-teaching disks which won’t get me very far in talking with artisans in Italy! But I will try! I’ll let you know what I learn.

        Reply

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