One of the things I like the most about Italy is that it hides pure gems almost everywhere.
If you look carefully, you’ll find meaningful old buildings, fascinating museums, interesting monuments or simply places with a story to tell in every Italian town, even in the smallest and lesser-known ones.
Moreover, if you find yourself in a place like Albissola Marina, a little seaside town with much more to show than its sandy beaches, it is definitely more likely to find places worth of interest, especially if you like art and handicraft.
As a matter of fact, Albissola Marina is a very important location in Italy for the production of pottery and ceramic art. This tradition began in the 15th century, with the production of simple flatware, and saw a constant growth and an amazing artistic development. Over the centuries, the production of ceramics flourished, reaching its climax at the beginning of the 20th century.
Jorn House Museum, a view of the main house
In the first decades of 1900, many artists moved to Albissola Marina to work there and soak into its thriving art scene. Albissola Marina became one of the most important places for Italian avant-garde art. Tullio Mazzotti, also known as Tullio d’Albisola, was the main actor in the scene and got many other important artists to work with him: Lucio Fontana, Arturo Martini, Wilfredo Lam, and Enrico Baj are some of the most important ones.
In such a thriving community, in 1954, arrived the Danish artist Asger Jorn, who was invited there by Enrico Baj, who was sure that the artistic – and meteorologic – climate would definitely help the precarious health and economic conditions of Jorn. Baj was right as Jorn’s work and art thrived while being in Albissola and led him to a certain success, which made him possible to buy a house up on the hills overlooking the sea.
inside the house
This is the house I visited last Sunday, on a warm afternoon anticipating the end of summer. I have been meaning to see the Jorn House Museum for years but – as it always happens when you have something within reach – I never managed to go. But I am so glad I finally did because the place is really amazing. Actually, it is so nice and so peaceful you don’t want to leave.
Asger Jorn, who is – together with Edvard Munch – the most important Scandinavian artist of the 20th century (something I found out when I visited the place, I have to admit), purchased the house in very bad conditions and immediately transformed it into a unique place, one of those places where you breathe art in every corner.
even the bathroom is pure art
As I told you, the house is up in the hills and the scenery is undoubtedly breathtaking. The sea is a constant presence, which never leaves you, not even inside the house as you can see it from every window. The garden is luscious, full of green plants, and it is a perfect backdrop for the ceramic decorations that you see everywhere – and that are the thing I loved the most.
In the outside areas, most of the stairs, the floors, some little walls, and a few sitting areas have been covered with ceramics, creating colorful works of art. You can really feel how the garden played a very important role and was an essential part of the household – it is so beautiful, how could it be otherwise?
a view of Jorn’s studio
a detail of one of the stairs
The main house is full of works of art as well: there are mural paintings, ceramics collages and a collection of ceramic plates. All the rooms are almost empty now but you can somehow still feel how full of life and energy it must have been in the past. After all, visiting the cellar, where Jorn kept his wine – for which he also designed a proper label – and seeing all the old pictures, you can really see how much he loved spending time with family and friends.
a nice corner in the garden
The perfect combination of the scenery, the garden and the works of art makes this place worth visiting even if you are not a fan of contemporary art. After his death, Asger Jorn left the house to the municipality of Albissola Marina with the commitment of transforming it into a museum and place where artists could work.
As a matter of fact, the house is now the Jorn House Museum, which is open almost daily and can be visited for free (guided tours upon request, booking needed). If you spend some time in the area, I totally recommend you visit it. Moreover, there’s more to see in Albissola Marina, if you are interested in art and ceramics. This website gives you an idea of the other places of interest in town.