Near La Verna (where St. Francis’s of Assisi founded the Sanctuary of St. Francesco and where he received the stigmata) is a tiny village called La Rocca, established by the Visigoths in the 6th century.
Directly in front of the stone church built in 600 AD in honor of Saint Agatha, is Fanette Cardinali’s ceramic studio. Here Fanette has two ceramic kilns situated in her laboratory, which was built into part of a giant rock.
Legend has it that the devil kicked La Verna mountain in anger, unable to convince St. Francesco to throw himself off it and the result was that various boulders came crashing down, two of them ending up at La Rocca.
Fanette’s parents (her father was Franco Cardinali, artist and ceramicist) came to Tuscany in 1969 in search of Piero della Francesca’s artwork. They passed by La Rocca and never left, purchasing and restoring the house constructed around one of the boulders (from the Calcio del diavolo – the kick of the devil). Franco created his ceramic workshop here and left it to Fanette in 1985 upon his passing. It was then that Fanette decided to try this artistic form.
With 30 years of experience, Fanette works with earthenware and stoneware (grès), keeping things as local as possible with much of her clay coming from the quarry near Sansepolcro (the Romans got their clay from there too, back in the day) and creates her own glazes with minerals in her studio.
Her repertoire is vast, from functional pottery to giant ceramic sculptures (two in photo above). Fanette says she is always inspired at La Rocca – a very spiritual place with a very creative history.
If you’re ever passing on your way to La Verna and St. Francesco’s Sanctuary, her studio is open to visit, as are the boulders.