Just outside the walls of the city of Perugia, there is a beautiful deconsecrated church called San Francesco delle Donne which houses a lot of history. Dating back to 1212, it is one of the oldest Franciscan churches in Italy. Today it is home to the Giuditta Brozzetti Workshop which makes the most beautiful handwoven textiles.
Giuditta Casini Brozzetti started her workshop in 1921. She hunted down all the local medieval and renaissance designs that she could find and employed the women of her area to weave household and church fabrics and woven furnishing products. She permitted her workers to weave their products at home so that they could also attend to their families while earning a living at the same time. For the most part, the items woven were worked on hand operated jacquard looms. Patterns were hammered manually using a system of wooden pegs to make punched cards. With the help of the artist Bruno da Osimo, who prepared many of the patterns used by her workshop, Giuditta Brozzetti produced many beautiful items.
Some sketches for Perugian fabric by Bruno da Osimo from the book: L'Officina di Bruno da Osimo:
The workshop became much appreciated and admired and before the Second World War its products were even exported to the US.
The tradition of the Giuditta Brozzetti workshop has been passed down by now four generations and today the workshop calls the church San Francesco delle Donne its home. Marta Cucchia is the youngest descendant who now creates her own designs there.
Here Marta and Vima deMarchi Micheli hold up a magnificent runner woven with silk:
Marta was kind enough to give us a guided tour in May of 2009, giving us demonstrations of weaving and pattern punching as well as letting us fondle all the beautiful products on display.
The Giuditta Brozzetti workshop teaches weaving, embroidery, lacemaking and gives guided tours of the church. It should not be missed if you spend any time in Perugia!
For more photos and enthusiastic reviews, go here, here, here and here!