Teams of craftsman built Naples’s Umberto I Gallery, a 19th-century landmark. Craftsman has long been prized in this city known for its Nativity figure.
A family creates nativity scenes in ceramic, with a twist
IN NAPLES perhaps more than anywhere else in Italy, craftsmanship is the fruit of ancient knowledge, handed down through the centuries. Today, Neapolitan artisans are bringing their work into the present, fusing tradition with innovation, and nowhere more so than at the ceramics workshop La Scarabattolla, a “laboratory of art” opened in the 1990s by three brothers of the Scuotto family. Their mission: reimagining the presepio, the Christmas Nativity scene, long an art form in Italy.
The Scuottos, now joined by two sisters and other family members, combine the sacred with the profane, creating dream like settings populated with hand-sculpted, hand-painted (and sometimes sinister) ceramic priests, devils, angels, even mermaid. A recurrent figure is modeled on 70-year-o[d Giacomino Dodicesimo, who has visited the Scarabattola shop daily for the past 15 years. “His childlike view of the world, the freedom of a mind that doesn’t work like others, inspires us,” says Salvatore Scuotto.
And the name Scarabatolla? It refers to the display cabinets that traditionally have held Nativity scenes, a nod to the past from a forward-looking team.
La Scarabattola, Via dei Tribunali 50. Open Monday-Saturday 10:30am-2pm, and 3:30-7:30pm. Works start at $20; the Schuottos also restore old Nativity scenes, www.lascarabattola.it
Lutes and Mandolins-Liuteria Calace-Neapolitan mandolins become works of art in the hands of artisans at this workshop founded in 1825. Vico San Domenico Maggiore 9 www.calace.it
Porcelain-Pocellane di Capodimonte-Flower bouquets, fairies, even Vespa scooters are rendered by Naples’s top porcelain artisans. Carso Italia 34/1, Marano di Napoli www.capodimonte-porcealin.com/it
Tambourines-Officina della Tammorra-Tambourines of all sizes, some painted with scenes of Naples, fill this workshop that also makes castanets. Vico S. Severino 39 www.officnadellatammorra.it