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Faenza: art, culture and tradition

All over the world, Faenza is synonymous with ceramics but above all else it is a place where the art of ceramics has perpetually bound the old and the new and where a vibrant artistic consciousness can be felt equally in the artisans’ workshops, the noble palaces, the art schools and the cultural and touristic events. Situated on the Via Emilia, between the coast and the hills, halfway between Bologna and Rimini and at the intersection with the road that connects Ravenna and Florence, back in the 14th century the town of Faenza became an important political and cultural meeting point thanks to the Manfredi family who ruled the town and formed firm connections with the Medici family in Florence and with the city’s cultural and artistic environment.  

In the 16th century Faenza’s artistic and technological skills in the field of ceramics really began to take hold across Europe, and in countries beyond the Alps, like France and Germany, white ceramic styles and decorations, beautiful women, and the compendiario style begin to be referred to as “faïences” for the former and “Fayencen” for the latter respectively. A widespread culture continued to enlighten the town for centuries and monuments began to pop up all over Faenza. At the end of the 18th century, in the period that art history calls “neoclassical”, the town took on the shape and appearance we still see today, thanks to artists like Giuseppe Pistocchi, Antonio Antolini, Felice Giani, and Antonio Trentanove.
Today it is still possible to sense a real old-world feel, somewhere between 15th century elegance and a prevailing neoclassicism. The town itself is the real masterpiece. Its impressive Piazza del Popolo (where we get a feel for the Renaissance division between municipal power and religious power), the late 15th century Cathedral, the early 17th century Fountain, Palazzo Milzetti (which is now the Museum of Neoclassicism in Romagna), the Art Gallery (Pinacoteca), the Masini Theatre, the Piazza Nenni or Piazza della Molinella, and the elegant frescoed buildings of the historic town centre sit side-by-side with the town’s lively commercial fabric, made up of ceramics and antiques shops, elegant boutiques , wine houses, restaurants and trattorias. 
Faenza is a sober, elegant town but the sense of tranquillity here makes it by no means provincial or boring. Museums, ceramic schools and institutions attract artists and students from all over the world. Many of these often choose to stay on here once they have finished studying or completed their artistic projects and this adds to that magical sense of serenity, artistic vivacity and sociability that leaves visitors to the town with the feeling that they have seen a place which nurtures the philosophy of good living.