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Piegaro is a quiet community with a remarkable history. It is a typical medieval village with encircling walls and defense towers. As early as 535 B.C. there was a temple to Diana where Piagarium was inscribed. Wounded Roman soldiers from the Punic Wars with Hannibal settled the village around 290 B.C. L'Antica Vetreria has one of the most important defensive towers, dating to 840 A.D., that guarded the main road from the valley.
In 1292, Piegaro experienced a great cultural and industrial development due to the famous Venice Proclamation which decreed that all glass artisans had to move their glass ovens to the Island of Murano in Venice Lagoon. The reason was put forth that it would keep Venice safer from fire. In fact, the glass artisans were held prisoner on the island and could not leave under penalty of death. This was to keep the glass formulae secret. Some glass masters escaped to arrive at the Medici Court and some, traveling south with the aid of Benedictine priests, arrived in Piegaro. In search of a more amiable setting, they were welcomed by the people of Piegaro, who sensed a fine opportunity for commerce when they saw one! The glass artisans settled into the lowest level of our property dating to 840 A.D. in the medieval defensive wall where the two first glass ovens still exist from 1292. They became very famous and were even given noble titles to compete for royal commissions. They created glass decorations for the Palazzo of the Duke of Urbino and also the Rose Window in the Duomo of Bologna. In 1321 the Duomo of Orvieto architect, Lorenzo Maitani, sent for the Piegarese glass masters of L'Antica Vetreria to move their ovens to Orvieto to create the mosiacs for its glittering facade. They lived and worked in the Opera del Duomo for over three years. They were sent for again in the 1400's to restore many of the existing mosaics.
Between 1500-1600, the factory was built up three more levels locating even more glass ovens (now apartments il Forno and il Nido) and a large factory floor (now the Villa) with tempering ovens. This glass works continued until 1934 when it was briefly suspended due to a severe economic downturn. In the beginning of WWII it was occupied by German soldiers. This was a sad time in the history of Piegaro, for when they left, the beautiful Comune Palazzo building was mined and destroyed. Fortunately, L'Antica Vetreria survived. Glass work continued through the efforts of the noble Marchesa Maria Carolina Misciatelli, who lived in the Palazzo Pallavicini Piegaro, who made the remaining glass factories into worker-owned cooperatives. In the early 1900's she had turned the Palazzo granary into the second huge glass factory which operated until 1960. Today, that second glass factory has been restored into a Museo del Vetro, with informative exhibits, demonstrations and glass workshops. Guest artisans practice all forms of decorative glass. Commercial glass production continues to this day in the modern glass works, established in 1960, the largest in Europe, which continues as a worker-owned cooperative in the valley. It produces between 2-3.5 million commerical bottles of all types shipped around the world.
To this day, the people of Piegaro remain friendly and welcoming! Reflecting the spirit of their ancestors who invited the Venetian glass masters to settle within the village walls, the mayor and cultural committee (sensing an opportunity for commerce!) warmly embraced our vision to restore the first ancient vetreria (L'Antica Vetreria).