Gambassi Terme – Permanent Exhibition Glass production in Gambassi (XIIIth–XVIth centuries)
Via Garibaldi 7, Gambassi Terme
tel. +39 0571 638204
From September 15 to June 14: from Tuesday to Friday 3 – 7 p.m.; Saturday 9 – 1 a.m.
From June 15 to September 14: from Tuesday to Friday 4 – 7 p.m.
Closed every Saturday and Sunday
Among the four elements water is the second both in weight and in instability…
[Leonardo da Vinci, Manuscript C]
With these words, Leonardo da Vinci tells us about water, the source of life, that is respected and studied until making it becomes the source of health and wellness. And he says again:
In peacetime, I think I can give perfect satisfaction and be the equal of any man in [...] conducting water from one place to another.
[Leonardo da Vinci, Atlantic Codex]
And having brought it from its source in the woods to the village to make it available in the Thermae, he has linked this word to the name of the place where we are now: Gambassi Terme. With it, other elements in the rich wooded hills: the energy of fire, obtained from wood, the earth in the form of silica sand, the breath of air that shapes the world. We just need to add the work of man to get glass. The human product that has always been created here with art and skill in respect for nature.
The objects that we see in the exhibition make our fantasy flow towards the sumptuously laid tables of the Renaissance in the courts of Florence, Rome and Mantua. Those courts that see a protagonist in Giovanni Gonnelli, a sculptor who was so talented that he could shape materials even without the use of sight. He was the son of one of the artisans of the area, the ‘bicchierai’ (glass makers) gambassini. They include Becuccio Bicchieraio, a friend and patron of Andrea del Sarto and named by Vasari for the commission of the Gambassi Altarpiece, which today is in Florence, at the Pitti Palace. Their inimitable skills gave the name gambassini to the glasses that, in many different shapes and colors followed the Via Volterrana and Via Francigena.
And now, we can understand what their first inspiration was, the daring and maybe impossible mission that these men were pursuing: to give water a shape.