What is an orcio?

The orcio is one of the key articles in the production of terracotta pots.

It is a kind of amphora, but with a fuller-bodied shape and more ornate decorations.

The orcio has a substantial, rotund shape. It is usually characterised by two or more bands embracing its generous belly. There are two handles on the upper part and the belly can be covered in decorations, festoons or plaques indicating the craftsman who produced the piece.

It is thought to have first appeared in the historical residences of the noble families of cities such as Florence and Siena around 1600. An object that was undoubtedly used as a garden ornament but also, in the case of its close relative the ziro, to hold oil.

The ziro had a more slender shape and was glazed on the inside to hold oil. The decorations were often limited to raised bands that served a practical function.  These bands made it possible to lift and move the object by guaranteeing a better grip.

We can now say that the classical Tuscan orcio is a unique object that epitomises all the tradition and history of Tuscan terracotta.