Artisan Journey in the Alta Valle del Tevere area

Textile art

In the Alta Valle del Tevere area the textile tradition was concentrated within convents and female monasteries, in which sacred garments and outfits were produced, and in the countryside, where the women dedicated their time to needlework in order to meet their family’s needs.
In 1908 in Città di Castello, thanks to the philanthropic initiative of Alice Hallgarten Franchetti, the “Tela Umbra” workshop was founded, still active, and now also site of the Collezione tessile di “Tela Umbra”. Alice’s intention was to pass on and value the art of weaving, a source of income for the weavers who, as well asgaining an income, were given the conditions to be able to remain close to their children thanks to the presence of a nursery.
Examples of domestic looms are displayed at the Centro delle Tradizioni Popolari di Garavelle, where the artisan work necessary for the production of daily use goods are documented. Next to the looms are the objects that at home were necessary required for spinning such as shuttles, cones, reels, spindles, spinning wheels, spinners and the flax brake.

The processing of tobacco

The cultivation of tobacco was for a long time one of the main sources of income for families in the Alta Valle del Tevere area. The first cultivations were of particular importance for commercial reasons in the Italian peninsular, and date back to the beginning of the seventeenth century and actually took place in the territory of the former Repubblica di Cospaia (1411-1826), today part of the borough of San Giustino. Here it is possible to visit the Museo storico e scientifico del tabacco, where the stages of cultivation and the processing of this plant are documented, and the story is told of the tabacchine, the female tobacco workers, great protagonists of a social revolution that saw them leave their traditional role as housewives, to be incorporated in the big industries. Also worth a visit is the little centre of Cospaia and from there you can travel along the smuggler’s trail, used over the centuries to smuggle tobacco.
Also in Città di Castello the landscape has been tinged by the presence of warehouses for tobacco cultivation. A small drying shed can be found at the Centro delle Tradizioni Popolari di Garavelle, but the more impressive buildings are undoubtedly the Former Drying Sheds for Tobacco, one of the sites of the Burri Collection. Opened in 1990, they form an exemplary restoration of industrial archaeology performed at the wish of Alberto Burri. Large cycles, permanent graphic pieces and a documentary section are now exhibited.


The invention of printing with movable type attributed to the goldsmith Magonza Johann Gutenberg (1455) formed a genuine cultural revolution for Europe in the fifteenth century.
In Città di Castello the first typographic printing press came into action in 1538 through the work of printers Bartolomeo and Niccolò Gucci of Cortona and Antonio Mazzocchi of Cremona. The three originated from Florence, a place closely connected to the town thanks to the relationship of the Vitelli family with the Medici rulers. Commissioned by the Priori religious town deacons, the three printing street vendors composed the Liber statutorum Civitatis Castelli, the statutes that report the law, the rules and the taxes applied.
At the end of the eighteenth century Francesco Donati and Bartolomeo Carlucci founded what was later to be known as the “Grifani-Donati” typographers, one of the oldest typographers in Italy still operating and home to the Centro di documentazione Arti Grafiche “Grifani-Donati 1799”.
The last decade of the nineteenth century saw the birth of the typographic business founded by Scipione Lapi (1872), which characterised the editorial work in Città di Castello from the beginning of the new century. From Lapi’s offices, many texts from scholars such as Raffaele de Cesare and Giosuè Carducci emerged, as well as significant books of Italian, Latin and Greek literature, and the famous Greek dictionary by Lorenzo Ricci.
After the closure of Lapi in 1910, in his place the Leonardo da Vinci typographers led by don Enrico Giovagnoli took over and and in 1913 the “Pliniana” Typographic Establishment was founded by one of his brainchilds in Selci in San Giustino, still in operation today and home to the Museo dello Stabilimento Tipografico “Pliniana”.