Few people realize that Bulgari, the renowned jewellery house, was in fact borne out of the long tradition of silversmiths in Ioannina town and the surrounding area of north-western Greece. The well-documented beginnings of the company’s founder, Sotirios Bulgaris, take us from Epirus, the prefecture of Ioannina, to Corfu and then on to Naples, before settling in Rome with his own workshop in 1884. Some material regarding this remarkable story of emigration can be found in local places to visit.
Ioannina is defined by its lake, the spectacular Ottoman castle of Ali Pasha, and its long tradition in the art of Silver. Anyone visiting this small romantic town, which is surrounded by a spectacular mountain range and unspoiled countryside, can immediately see that the tradition of silversmiths is still very much alive – growing, adapting, and adjusting to global cultural and financial developments – as it has been doing for more than 8 centuries.
Certainly by the 14th century, Ioannina had become a bustling city full of guilds, a crucial institution across Europe at the time, which helped develop a healthy social, cultural and financial infrastructure. One of the most significant guilds in Ioannina was the Silversmiths Guild. Historical records tell us that by the 1820s, there was a dynamic presence of 34 workshops in the city. Towards the end of the 19th century, some families of silversmiths left Ioannina and the surrounding region in order to try their luck in other countries, such as Italy. One of them of course was the Bulgari family, about which we’ll write more in a future post.
One of the towns that carries such a agreat history and culture related to Greek Jewelry!
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TheTeam@SilverTownArt Greek Jewelry