A trip to the Valdichiana Senese to learn about local crafts and the golden hands of the area’s artisans
The story of Paola’s artisan waxworks, La Garibaldina, from Rome to Cetona
Wax: a malleable material that can be sculpted and is water resistant. Beeswax, soy wax, kerosene wax, stearin: a material that can be used to create candles, vases, accessories, furnishings, bowls and other containers.
“There are very few wax factories in Italy that process wax entirely by hand, and I am proud that my “La Garibaldina” is one of those few.”
For Paola Doricchi, wax has no secrets: in her shop-laboratory that overlooks Piazza Garibaldi in Cetona, she melts wax, making beautiful colorful and fragrant objects from it. It is a totally artisanal work that starts with melting the wax, which is mixed with pigments and natural essences, and ends with the processing in post-production: “After pouring the material into the molds and drying, I work by hand, literally sculpting the object with the tools of the trade. I like the craftsmanship because every candle, every vase, any object, comes different from each other, no two are ever the same, and that is also the beauty of craftsmanship.”
Paola was born and raised in Cetona, then moved to Rome for her university studies where she remained until 2017, when she decided to return to the Valdichiana Senese by opening her shop-laboratory in the piazza.
“I have been an artisan for work and not just as a hobby for a relatively short time. I have always had a passion for creating handcrafted products, and when in 2009 by pure chance I started working with wax in a workshop in Rome, it was love at first sight. I learned the craft well, so much so that after a short time I decided to open my own waxworks in the San Lorenzo neighborhood. From there this adventure began, which I later transferred to Cetona, my hometown.”
Being an artisan for Paola, is a great fortune, despite the many difficulties related to the bureaucratic, economic and competition aspect: “I am convinced that I am doing the most beautiful job in the world. The candle, initially created to illuminate, is now a real piece of furniture! I like to be able to make candles any way I want: I can embellish them with pickled gold, make them cubic, round or cylindrical in shape, very small or huge in size, one color or several colors together. And then I can create customized items, everyone can have their own original and unique item according to taste and need. There is no limit in making objects with wax.”
Paola’s creative spirit finds perfect outlet in the creation of objects made with carefully selected and certified products: “All my waxes are certified, the fragrances and essential oils are natural and produced in Italy, and even the colors are mineral and natural pigments, the ones that are also used in food companies. A choice related to health, both the buyer’s and my own, it is for the good of all to use certain certified materials.”And if in summer production stops because of the heat and high temperatures at which the wax has to be melted (80°!), at other times of the year creation is constant and products are made by inserting fragrances that vary according to the season they are sold: “If in summer I prefer fresh and floral fragrances, in winter I opt for warmer and sweeter ones, such as orange, cinnamon, vanilla, musk, myrrh, amber.”
Are you by any chance wondering why the name “La Garibaldina”?Paola, as a good creative, amazes even in this: “It is not only referable to Piazza Garibaldi, the square on which the waxworks overlooks, but also to a story that I have always been particularly fond of, namely the one related to Giuseppe Garibaldi, who during the second half of the 19th century, sent into exile, went to the United States, to New York, where he was hosted by Antonio Meucci.The two great figures, together, opened a candle factory.I liked to connect my Garibaldi spirit to this story.”
Paola of La Garibaldina pottery is just one of the many artisans who make unique creations in the Valdichiana Senese. In the coming weeks we will tell the stories of the other expert masters of arts and crafts who open the doors of their workshops every day to create ceramics, musical instruments, jewelry and more. Follow us to find out about them all.
And if you missed it check out our video, where you can see the artisans at work.
If you’re curious to meet Paola and other Valdichiana Senese artisans live, book the Valdichiana Living Artisans Tour.
For a well-rounded experience, we’ve also thought of a 3-day stay to get to know the Valdichiana Senese, explore the artisan stores, and eat local products. Take a look here.