Cooking pots, Italy

Pietra ollare is a fine-grained green or grey soapstone that has been mined in the Valtellina valley in Italy’s Lombardy region since the Bronze Age. Soapstone (steatite) is well-known for its heat-retentive properties, making them a good material for pots.

These stone cooking pots (laveggi) are the area’s best-known product, said to neutralise poisons in food and not taint its flavour, unlike pots made of copper or brass. Laveggi are still made in the traditional way today, turned on a water-powered lathe and sold as luxury kitchen accessories.

Collected by Katharine Furse before 1928.

Accession number: 2015.15.1–.3