Manufacturing and industrial brickyards in Umbria are important not only for the quantity but also for being witnesses of the productive activity, the skills and the evolution of the community and for being part of the landscape. It is important to understand their original function, often compromised by the consequences of abandonment or reuse.
From ancient days to at least the first half of the 19th century, it has kept being a manufacturing production based on the use of clay, the mixture with water, the cooking with firewood and the seasonal production. The brickyards worked more during the summer when there were more water, sun (for the drying process), wood (for cooking) and labour force (free from the work in the countryside).
In the second half of the 19th century started a period of great innovation for the sector, mostly because of the increase of varieties of bricks and tiles and for the spread of use of the continuous furnace in any sector that used hot working. These furnaces could cook continuously and guarantee more production and higher quality.
There were furnace for bricks, glazed, earthenware and pottery in many parts of Umbria. However the technical development here was slower than elsewhere: at the end of the 19th century most furnaces were still traditional; in 1910 there were only four Hoffmann continuous furnaces, twenty in 1913 and only at the end of the ‘30s most of the production became mechanized.
Moreover in the ‘30s started a concentration process around the Fornaci Briziarelli di Marsciano, which at the time was the leader of the sector in Umbria.
In the last decades of the 20th century there was a decrease of the local units and workers and began a diversification process: only one big enterprise worked in a big part of the market (the Briziarelli company, owner of most of the brickyards still active) while the others, mostly situated in Castel Viscardo, near Orvieto, worked in niche markets, producing mostly brick flooring or making traditional products used for restauration.
Here you will find the ideal itinerary with examples of factories that helped the development of the sector.
The Fornaci Briziarelli di Marsciano started in 1906 as the first plant of the company. Since then it was characterized by a continuous plant modernization, starting from the furnaces; from the Lanuzzi continuous furnace to the Hoffmann furnace and the Kerabedarf furnace.
Since the ‘30s, the company has been the leader of the sector in Umbria, acquiring quarries and brickyards and buildings around Umbria, as evidenced by the establishments of Perugia and Santa Maria degli Angeli. Since 1993 it is one of the best enterprises in Italy and in the entire world.