Welcome to Our Family!
The story of Arte D’Italia Imports began in the 1950’s when Ben Spalluto, a native of Castellana Grotte, Italy came to the U.S. and married his wife, Carol, a resident of Santa Barbara, CA. The couple soon discovered that they shared the love of fine Italian ceramics. After a few years of traveling back to Italy, the Spalluto’s embarked on their dream to bring the quality, handmade and hand-decorated Italian ceramics to the attention of those in the states. Their dream led to the founding of Arte D’Italia Imports in the year 1982.
Figurines, including Capodimonte, were the main focus of the company at first. However, it became apparent to the Spalluto’s early on, that the North American markets craved more practical ceramics, such as dinner and serving ware. They soon began introducing the charming, folksy ceramics of Ceramiche Antonio Parrucca. Finding immediate acceptance for these items, the Spalluto’s quickly expanded their collections to include dozens of lines of handmade and hand painted Italian tableware and decorative accessories from all over Italy.
Today, the Spalluto’s company, now including their two daughters and son, constantly scour the Italian countryside in order to offer the finest in traditional majolica from Umbria and Tuscany, as well as new and exciting patterns from other regions of Italy to retailers in the U.S. They take pride in featuring ceramics are made in small workshops where artisans and their families produce individual works of art using techniques handed down from generation to generation. In doing so, they have become a key distributor of Italian ceramics and feature the largest collection of handcrafted majolica in the West.
After over 26 years in business, the Spalluto family invites you to share in their love of Italian ceramics, hoping that you too may find a true appreciation of the art of Italian Pottery.
What is Majolica?
The ceramics we import are defined as Majolica. To be considered as such, an item must be made of European red clay. After the item dries and is fired the first time, it is dipped in a white, chalky coating over which the design is painted entirely freehand with lead-free mineral glazes; it is then fired again to bring out the colors of the various minerals. The finished product is Majolica. This may sound simple, but painting a design on a chalky surface with glazes of various consistencies is extremely difficult, and there is no room for mistake, or the piece is ruined.
With repeated use, Majolica has a tendency to “craze”, or form miniscule lines within the glazing. This has no effect on the durability of the item. Because all of our pottery is handmade, color and patterns can vary from piece to piece. We feel this reveals the essence of the handmade process and illustrates the unique character of the piece.
Many of the designs we feature date back countless generations or are derived from Renaissance artwork. Because most factories use a similar color palette, the majority of our pieces complement each other beautifully to create a perfectly set table, a tastefully decorated wall or whatever your imagination envisions.