THE EUROPEAN SOUL IN LIGURIAN GLASS

From the Middle Ages to the Modern Age and up to the threshold of the industrial revolution, the working of glass "à la façon d'Altare" is a story of unforgettable style that has conquered Europe and that skilled craftsmen still have in their hearts and hands.

THE EUROPEAN SOUL IN LIGURIAN GLASS

It was the Benedictines from Normandy and Brittany who introduced the art of glassmaking to Liguria in the 12th century. It was the glass masters from Altare, an ancient village in western Liguria, who spread a unique style of glass making which, from the 14th century onwards, in a sort of historical restitution, became famous in France and beyond: the history of glass and its makers in Liguria has very ancient roots. In the hinterland alone between Genoa and Savona, the two main Ligurian cities, rich in beech woods and ferns useful for glassmaking, archaeologists have discovered more than thirty medieval glassworks. But it was in Altare, 70 km from Savona, that a technique and a school were established that would make the history of glassmaking. From the 15th century, utilitarian objects and artistic creations "à la façon d'Altare", made using the hand-blowing technique, became increasingly popular and in demand, and for centuries the glass masters of the small Ligurian village, like the Benedictines in the Middle Ages, were distributed throughout Europe under the aegis of their guild, the 'University of Glass', which controlled and passed on the secrets of glassmaking, severely punished those who did not respect the rules and gave permission to set up workshops in the rest of Italy and Europe. The first communities of Ligurian glass artisans abroad were established in Provence in the 15th century, the most famous being in Goult, on the Vaucluse Mountains. In the following centuries, glass masters established centres of art in Nevers, Orleans, Lyon, Paris and the Netherlands. Historical accounts tell us that the communities of glassworkers from Liguria were very close and connected to their University and that it was a tradition, every Thursday, to dine together by putting an extra dish on the table, which was called the "souls' bowl", into which the offerings of those present flowed and were donated to charity and to the Corporation's public benefit initiatives. Those who visit the town of Altare, in the Glass Museum located in the beautiful Art Nouveau building of Villa Rosa, can admire masterpieces and works in glass by masters from the 17th century to the present day and of course meet at least two of our craftsmen.

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