That is really a hard question to answer. We – I’m Italian you know! – have so many regional designs, deservedly popular thanks to their beauty and their century-old heritage.
However, I wish to try and answer this question, without claiming that this is an exhaustive list of all the best Italian Dinnerware patterns, of course. It’s just a list to help you out in the wide choice you might be confronted with.
1 – Classic Dinnerware patterns
I wish to mention here three designs, Raffaellesco, Ricco Deruta and Arabesco. They all originated in Deruta between the 15th and the 17th century. Their classic beauty makes them all time dinnerware sets, whose exquisite elegance and subtle refinement are never commonplace. Here is a short description.
Inspired by Raphael’s fresco, the Raffaellesco is adorned with a stylized mythical dragon.
It was a benevolent deity, granting good luck and fair winds to the seagoing merchants, as symbolized by the puffs of wind steaming from its mouth.
The origins of Ricco Deruta are uncertain. The most qualified version is that it summarizes the most beautiful details of the Umbrian frescos and reinterprets them in the typical Deruta style. An unusual, yet beautiful, blue version is available in some selected stores.
It is a Persian calligraphic design from the 17th century.
In the original classic version, each piece of foliage is first sketched with color and then carefully outlined.
These two stages deliver its unique casual elegance, which makes it perfect for the everyday and formal table.
If you are lucky enough to visit Deruta, you’ll find dozens of stores selling handmade classic dinnerware sets. Beware of low prices and quick and rough designs. If you want to go for quality dinnerware, make sure that the pattern details are neat, accurate and rich and that the colors are well shaded.
Click on the picture below and look carefully at these plates: they are both hand painted in Deruta in the traditional Raffaellesco pattern. They look very different though.
A is less decorated than B: there are only two dragons, a lesser number of details, a larger unpainted surface.
These difference highly impact the value of your Italian Dinnerware. Keep an eye on them while making your choice!
I believe one of the best Raffaellesco’s among Deruta ceramics is the one by Fima, a small, family run company, very concentrated on quality and respectful of the most traditional techniques.
2 – Geometric Dinnerware patterns
Geometric or Vario dinnerware sets strongly remind us of the Hispano-Moresque origins of Italian pottery. They were especially popular in Deruta in the 16th century, where intricate, symmetric patterns were often painted on a dark blue background.
A geometric dinnerware set always adds a touch of luxurious style to any table, be it modern or traditional. Additionally, it’s very exciting to mix and match various patterns to create unique and personalized place settings.
The geometric dinnerware sets I prefer are those hand-painted by Eugenio Ricciarelli. I love his blue, velvety backgrounds which make the ochre, green and red designs stand brightly out. I also recommend having a look at D&G ceramics, a most successful blend of tradition and creativity.
3 – Fruit Dinnerware patterns
Their timeless charm reflects that of their homeland: Tuscany.
No matter if simply sketched or richly decorated, the cosy stylishness of Italian fruit dinnerware reconciles classic and modern style lovers.
Some of the most opulent patterns will make you feel the Tuscan sun on your skin, the delicious taste of ripe fruit, the sound of bees buzzing around, the pleasure of eating under a grape vine pergola.
There is not a standard fruit pattern which I can mention to you. What I can say, though, is that the most beautiful Italian fruit patterns have in common a rich color palette, an abundance of any sort of summer fruit, such as figs, peaches, plums, apricots, together with pears, apples and pomegranates. Flowers are often intertwined with fruit leaves in a cheerful and always splendid scenario.
The most interesting place to look for Italian Fruit Dinnerware in Tuscany is among Montelupo ceramics. During the Renaissance this quiet village, located just on the outskirts of Florence, was famous all over Europe for its magnificent ceramics, whose quality and beauty has been preserved over time by a restricted group of excellent artists.
The next step is to view as many patterns as possible before deciding what is the right one for you.
But before you start to browse for Handmade Italian Dinnerware, make sure you have all the info you need to make a good choice. It might be a good idea to read my article “A quick guide to handmade Italian Dinnerware”.
As usual, I like to end my articles with one last piece of advice: never compromise on quality!