Florence, Italy: An Easy & Cheap Day Trip to Montelupo Capraia
Majolica pottery featuring the Montelupo Harlequin
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Eugenio Taccino & C. De Melo- a happy reunion
Capraia e Limite
Eugenio Taccini's studio
Here in Italy (and in Europe in general), trains provide a wonderful opportunity to travel inexpensively while soaking up breathtaking views.
The train station of Montelupo Capraia serves two separate towns: Montelupo Fiorentino (historically famous for its ceramics) and Capraia e Limite, which is a smaller medieval borgo.
A one-way ticket costs 3,50 euro and the ride is about 25 minutes long, offering views of Tuscan landscapes.
In Montelupo there are giant terracotta vases scattered through the streets and several ceramic shops.
Interestingly, I ran into the talented ceramic artist Eugenio Taccino, who I hadn't seen in well over a decade. While attending university in Massachusetts, I went to an event in Providence, Rhode Island hosted by the legendary "Prince of Providence" - the late Buddy Cianci.
SIDE NOTE: Once upon a time Providence was a second-rate city.
Cianci came along and started cleaning up the streets, which drew people to the deserted downtown area, and it flourished from there. He then ordered gondolas from Venice to grace the river and sponsored events like Water Fire.
It was during Providence's "Urban Renaissance" that Cianci invited artisans from Italy to attract tourism.
I remember this event well and fondly; a leather craftsman, a book binder, a goldsmith, and a ceramic artist (Eugenio Taccino) amazed me with their talents.
I walked away from my encounter with Eugenio thinking "it is indeed a small world."
Montelupo has been occupied by humans since ancient times. Currently, there is a group of American students working on an archaeological site of a Roman villa.
During the Italian Renaissance, it was a top producer of ceramic, boasting some of the finest majolica “istoriata” (stained) in the country.
The "Arlecchini" (Harlequin) is one of the most popular characters of 16th century Italian comedy, and can be seen just about everywhere in Montelupo.
There are some nice places to drink and dine in the town, too. The cool, literary cafe / bar, Tesla Science Bar, is worth checking out.
Also, there is a historic bar on the main square that has been there for about 50 years. Today, it also serves delicious pizza: Bar Pizzeria Seta.
In Caprai e Limite, climb to the top and enjoy the stunning views. In the distance is a former Medici villa, which now serves as a hospital for the criminally insane.
Leading up to the villa is a pleasant park with mature trees lining the road.
As always, thank you for reading.
C. De Melo
Author & Artist
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