Little Shop of Miracles

March 26, 2012 / Local Interest
Orvieto, Umbria
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.

Toni DeBella

by Toni DeBella

A Freelance writer and blogger at 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. 

17 Responses to “Little Shop of Miracles”

  1. Paraphrasing what a traveler said about Siena in a piece I wrote several years ago: “Orvieta is one of the most over-looked towns in Europe.”

  2. Hilda Haithcock

    i agree with cecil about orvieto being an overlooked gem….i will definitely find this shop when i next visit!

  3. Maria Sorice

    So is it possible to contact him and ask if we could order or have items shiped?

    • Toni DeBella

      Hi Maria. Well, one of the most charming things about Alberto is that he is not “online”, but you can call him and he would be happy to ship his artwork to you, however, he won’t ship the small figurines and statutes as they are almost certain to break in transit. But if you’d like to purchase his array of plaques and flat wall hangings call, or contact him the old-fashioned way…by letter. Here is his contact information. La Corte Dei Miracoli, Laboratoria Piazza De Ranieri, 13, Orvieto, TR, Italia.001 39 343 315 6502. Good luck. Toni

  4. Cecil and Hilda-don’t tell anyone about Orvieto, we want to keep it this way! Lovely post Toni!

  5. I can’t believe I missed this place when I was there. Guess it’s time to revisit.

  6. In all my visits to Orvieto I don’t think I’ve ever seen this shop, but I’ll be sure to check it out next time I’m there. Thanks!

  7. Chris Knapp

    We did visit Orvieto and agree with all the above comments. It is truly a gem of a city. We also shopped in La Corte Dei Miracoli and purchased some tiles. We are in the process of retiling our kitchen and would like to purchase some additonal tiles. This may sound silly, but should we write in Italian or English?


  8. Toni DeBella

    Chris, No, not a silly question at all. Alberto speaks excellent English and I think that having his original tiles in your new kitchen is an amazing idea. I would love to see the results when your kitchen is complete – send photos. Thanks. toni


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