Collecting Italian majolica floor tiles

stanza-al-genio-6This story is about love and dedication, about beauty and craftsmanship, about history and heritage.

Pio Mellina is a man who turned his passion for antique Italian tiles into a dream and a few years ago the dream came true. He has created “Le Stanze al Genio”, a Museum in Palermo where visitors can explore his huge collection and marvel at the variety of designs, styles and colors. A display of Italic creative genius! Pio has been collecting antique Italian tiles since he was a child. Instead of joining his friend for a soccer match, he searched the little street markets in the old city. Tiles were cheap, as people did not know what to do with them. Sometimes they were just the waste of the renovation of old houses. Pio purchased them and stored them in his parent’s basement.

When the basement was packed with tiles and Pio could no longer locate what he was looking for, he started to organize them and to collect information as well. His studies changed his collecting habits: he learnt to appraise the tiles he found and purchased some very rare pieces. Pio’s wish to have a place of his own where the tiles could be displayed and appreciated by anyone grew over time, just like his collection. In 1998 he bought a flat in an ancient downtown building. He started the renovation with a twofold purpose: it had to be his home as well as the place where all his tiles could be beautifully displayed. In 2008 Pio Mellina’s house and museum was ready and opened to the public.

stanza-al-genio-3Le Stanze al Genio has immediately received national and international recognition. It hosts more than 2500 tiles, probably the largest collection in the world. Four more rooms will be soon opened to accommodate a total of 4000 tiles. Impressive, isn’t it?

The habit of covering the floor with hand painted  tiles was formed in the 1500-1600 in the southern regions of Italy, especially Palermo and Napoli. That’s when the most notable palaces were built.

The design of the tiles was decided by the architect of the building or by the owner. Sometimes the craftsmen were free to show their genius, asked only to match the details of the frescos in the rooms.

Created by Pio Mellina with the help of some friends, the Museum is completely self-funded. A miracle of hard work and dedication. Do not miss it on your next trip to Palermo! stanza-al-genio-2