The Brickmaking Museum in Pontedera


The manufacturing of bricks is a very ancient
craft, whose rapid growth is linked to the
availability of raw materials, coming from the
clay deposits of Arno and Era rivers. The most
important furnaces were therefore located in
the small hamlet of La Rotta. In this locality
bricks manufacturing started in the 11th century,
thanks to its favourable position that allowed
the exploitation of clay deposits coming from the
river. There are evidence that in the nineteenth
century 14 furnaces were present in the area
along the river, all of them wood furnaces of
quite small dimensions. One of the first
Hoffmann furnaces (a particular kind of furnace
working with uninterrupted fire) was built in
1872 right in La Rotta by Francesco Capecchi.
The widespread and substantial bricks
manufacturing had a seasonal character: during
the spring season the small town became
deserted since all the furnaces workers moved to
the Piemonte and Lombardia regions, in
Northern Italy, where life conditions inside the
furnaces were inhumane and people had to work
for 16-17 hours per day.