Caltagirone has been known for their pottery making for ages, its very name derives from the Arabic “qal’at-al-jarar“, which means “Castle of (pottery) jars”. A short stroll around the city will do to understand where this reputation comes from: every bridge, balcony or monument has a pot in its traditional form or a vase in the shape of a head watching you from above.
Nominated Knight of the Republic in 2007, Official of the Republic in 2011 and a signer of the “Manifesto for the applied arts of the new century”, Giacomo Alessi is basically an institution in his hometown. He is in the book of Living Human Treasures in the Register of Intangible Heritage of the Sicily Region foreseen by UNESCO.
His work is a profound reflection on Sicilian heritage, specially Caltagirone, where he was born in 1955. He reinterprets tradition, like his ceramic vases in the shape of Moorish or Italian heads that he calls “Teste”. The anthropomorphic Alessi Ceramiche vases express the historical richness and traditions of Sicily, which has always been a crossroads of peoples and cultures.
Alessi is also very well known for producing “pignas”, another classic symbol of the Sicilian legacy. Being a fruit full of seeds, the pine cone is related to fertility and prosperity (this is the reason why they’re easily spotted on the headboards of iron beds), which makes them the perfect wedding present.
No balcony? Go for a pencil holder, instead.
The pine cone is said to be a great token for the creative mind with its many seeds symbolizing the fertility of ideas. Its ovoid shape is associated in different cultures to the pineal gland of the human brain.