Permanent Glassware Exhibition
Gambassi Terme

The exhibition displays the results of historical and archeological research on glass production in Valdelsa, an activity that has been documented since the 13th century and has long been a distinguishing element of the Valdelsa celebrated well beyond the local territory.


Gambassi Terme, Permanent Glassware Exhibition

The museum

The exhibition displays the first results of historical and archeological research, celebrating an artisanal manufacturing industry that has for centuries been a distinguishing element of the entire Val d’Elsa, known well beyond the local territory. The zone is one of three Italian glassmaking areas known in that period, along with Altare and Murano. The particularty and notoreity of its production was such that “gambasini” glasses came to be produced elsewhere as well by “bicchierai” or glassmakers from Gambassi who worked throughout Italy from the 14th century on.

 

There are three sections in the exhibition.

Glass production in Italy
Introduction to the history of glass production in Italy from prehistory to the 16th century. Particular attention is focused on late-medieval glass production in Tuscany and the Valdelsa.Finds attesting to glass production in a few sites in the Valdelsa are displayed. 

Pre-industrial glassmaking techniques
A description of the technological aspects of pre-industrial glassmaking, with a particular focus on raw materials found in the area, production facilities, equipment, and the shaping of objects made in glassworks in operation from the 13th-16thcenturies in the Gambassi area. A three-dimensional informational panel summarizes the entire pre-industrial glass production process. There are also work tools, melting pots, scrap materials, and glass objects produced in and around Gambassi brought to light by recent excavations.

Everyday life in Gambassi glassworks areas
Everyday objects and the remains of meals unearthed during excavations in the municipality of Gambassi Terme illustrate the lifestyle and socioeconomic context of Gambassi’s glassmakers from the 14th to the 16th centuries. Display cases hold finds from excavations in Germagnana and Gambassi (Via delle Campane and Piazza del Castello).

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Works by great masters, multimedia reconstructions with voices and stories from the territory and the communities it hosts, archaeological finds and historical arts and crafts: every museum in the area offers great little stories to discover.

Archaeology

The “gambasinus” glass

The earliest mentions of the “gambasinus” drinking glass are in early-14th-century documents from Murano; they indicate that it was a small but long glass made in either green or “crystalline” (i.e. colorless) glass with the aid of a mold that imprinted a decoration on the surface. Production of these glasses is also documented in Imola and Bologna.

Truncated-conical-shaped glasses with conical indented bases and geometric decorations imprinted on the walls and sometimes on the base as well unearthed in the Germagnana glassworks are believed to be the “gambasinus” type mentioned in these documents. The technique used to make these glasses is extremely quick, allowing the production of large numbers of pieces. Its widespread diffusion between the 14th and 16th centuries is evidenced by finds of fragments in numerous archeological sites practically all along the Italian peninsula.

The land

In the middle of an area known since antiquity for it rejuvenating saline waters and a fundamental stop along the Via Francigena, Gambassi Terme has historically had a vocation for wellbeing and hospitality.

Located along the main roads that have linked the major towns of Tuscany since Etruscan and Roman times, in the Middle Ages the village of Gambassi and the nearby Parish Church of Santa Maria a Chianni were mentioned by Archbishop Sigeric of Canterbury as one of the stops on his pilgrimage to Rome on the Via Francigena.
In the Medieval period, Gambassi became a manufacturing center with activities like glassmaking, documented by the Permanent Glass Exhibition, and the production of terracotta, the medium of the 17th-century sculptor Francesco Gonnelli, known as the Blind Man of Gambassi.

A short distance from the characteristic historic center, which has numerous intact Medieval buildings and narrow, winding streets and offers breathtaking views over the surrounding countryside, is the Municipal Park. Here, surrounded by old-growth trees, the Terme della Via Francigena make use of the beneficial properties of the saline waters from the nearby Pillo spring, offering treatments for the wellbeing of the body and the spirit, to enjoy along with the authentic flavors of this territory’s abundant olive oil and wine.

  • Archaeology
  • Art
  • Memories
  • Sciences & Technics

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Useful information

Contacts

Permanent Glassware Exhibition
(Mostra permanente del Vetro)
Via Garibaldi, 7
50050 – Gambassi Terme (Firenze)
tel. +39 0571 1655141
e-mail: turismo@comune.gambassi-terme.fi.it

Opening hours

summer season
(from June 15 to September 14)

Tuesday to Friday
4 pm – 7 pm

winter season
(from September 15 to June 14)

Tuesday to Friday
3 pm – 7 pm

Saturday

9 am – 1 pm

Other hours available by reservation
(tel. 0571 1655140 – 0571 1655154)

Tickets

Free entry