"La città nascosta" (The hidden city), section 3

8. Fiera Catena: a urban area between late Middle Ages and early modern period

It was only in the 15th c. that Fiera Catena saw a phase of urban growth.
The splendour of the town during the Renaissance is marked by the production of incised slip ware or ceramica graffita (which became popular during the 15th c.). It is based on a specific technological innovation which came from the Islamic East: double baking. The first baking session bakes the ceramic shape, covered in fine clay (slip) and decorated with incisions; the second one fixes the paintings and the vitreous coating (glaze) to make the final product waterproof and to give it an elegant, shiny appearance.
Thanks to its proximity to important monasteries and to the Anconetta harbour, the area seems to remain lively even after the 1630 Sack, with the presence of taverns and inns. Their existence is suggested by the discovery of mugs (very similar but different in dimensions) and also by the presence of dice and Turkish-type tobacco pipes, which bear witness to the spread of smoking in Mantua during the 17th century.

9. Incised slipped pottery: a social proxy
Thanks to the Gonzagas’ policy in matter of town planning, Fiera Catena experienced a phase of urban growth on the threshold of the Renaissance.
In fact, the regeneration of this area, as well as that of other parts of Mantua, between the 15th and the 16th c. were possible through specific grants assigned to an ascending bourgeoisie, whose good status can still be observed in numerous examples of incised slipped pottery (ceramica graffita) recovered from the excavation, dating back to the second half of the 15th c. and to the 16th c.

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