The artisanal symbol of Valtellina
Valtellina’s colourful traditional rugs of varied design, called
pezzotti or pelorsc, are unmistakeable. The handwoven rugs with
their simple, rustic, hard-wearing weave encapsulate the very essence of their
origin, Valtellina. Some say that the Arabs introduced the art of weaving
pezzotti, while others say it was the Umiliati monks, who settled in
Castionetto di Chiuro in the 12th and 13th centuries. Whatever their origin,
what really matters is that it was the peasants who used them and passed the
tradition down through the generations, and the craft is now being revived by
several artisanal manufacturers.
Pezzotti are made with simple natural materials such as cotton, wool, linen, hemp thread, a wooden loom – and lots of patience. In winter, local women used to cut fabrics into strips and weave them on a hand loom. Once the materials were woven together, colourful designs appeared as if by magic – pyramids, fishtails, stripes, and triangular flames. The unique rugs were the fruit of their creators’ genius, which had a strongly practical streak. They were originally used to make sacks to store buckwheat, to cover hay or as blankets for animals. These days, these simple works of art add a touch of colour to both traditional and modern interiors.
This symbol of
the local craftsmanship can be found in shops and boutiques throughout
Valtellina and particularly in Middle/Lower Valtellina.
Some of the leading exponents of this craft can be found at the workshop of Cristina Toppi in Casacce (in Ponte in Valtellina), which features an exhibition about pezzotti. While in Morbegno, the Ruffoni family have been crafting the handmade rugs since 1935.
To honour the importance of this handcrafted product and to help preserve this ancient art, the “Il Pezzotto del Val d’Arigna” project was established by the Associazione Punto Ponte. The Museo Etnografico della Civiltà Contadina in Ponte in Valtellina, which is housed in the former Jesuit College, invites tourists and locals to journey into the rituals and customs of yesteryear with tools and other exhibits showcasing rural traditions.