In Italian, terracotta artisan Alberto Bellini’s cognome (family name) can be loosely translated to mean “little beauties”. It’s really the perfect moniker for the proprietor of La Corte dei Miracoli (Court of Miracles), the Orvieto shop where since 1990 this craftsman has been meticulously moulding, carving and forming his clay creations by hand.
In terms of square meters and by most standards, his
bottega (workshop) can be considered downright minuscule. The size of his detailed ceramic sculptures, figurines and inscribed tablets never measure more than 15 centimeters high, and the Piazza De’ Ranieri where his shop is situated is one of the smallest in town. This, however, is where the diminutive references must end and the discussion turns to the grandness of it all.
Alberto will tell you himself that he is “big” on the Middle Ages – both the fantasy and the reality of the era interest and inspire him. Each piece he makes has equal significance. Whimsical castles, pocket-sized wizards engrossed in books and flying dragons sit side-by-side historically accurate medieval family crests and thirty medieval plaques, famously representing the great civil powers of Orvieto’s past. Just like the man who produces them, these symbols are the union of opposites, of black and white, sun and moon, male and female. These juxtapositions are almost always present in his artwork.
Standing very tall and striking a strong and handsome figure, Alberto’s passion and devotion to his art, which is his life’s work, are the antithesis of tiny – they are of true gargantuan proportion.
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Orvieto or Bust, Toni recently packed everything she owns into two suitcases and headed to Orvieto, Italy. She’s adjusted her tennis game to the clay courts and drinks way too many caffe lattes.