Admonishment 2

You’ve been warned!

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Real Life or Art?

These chairs were outside one of the Arsenale Biennale venues.

I contend that they were more artistic than some of the art on display.

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Street Art / Venetian Stylin’ #9

Saw these near Campo San Francesco della Vigna. My first reaction was to think “how untraditional and un-Venetian” but then I quickly changed my thinking. Venice is in peril. It needs its young people and new ways of living and thinking. This street art shows that the community is vibrant and engaged. Cheers to that!

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Real Life or Art?

I saw this poster in the Arsenale section of the Biennale. Is it a real ad or art or a hoax? In any case, it was pretty funny!

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I’m Being a Lookie-loo Again!

In case you are not familiar with this American term, a “lookie-loo” is a person who likes to check out other people’s property, like walking through an open house that is for sale. A lookie-loo usually doesn’t intend to buy–they just want to look!

Enjoy another video featuring a Venetian property for sale. This place is an attic apartment–actually two apartments–plus an altana, the rooftop terrace. It’s quite interesting to see how they laid out the place, and the funky staircase is definitely unusual. The ceilings are low, but the design is so interesting, and the rooms so full of light, that it creates a fascinating space.

The remarkable staircase

As I watched this video, my mouth was hanging open in amazement. The tile and terrazzo floors, the painted wooden doors, the beam ceilings, the interior patio, even the radiator cover were all gorgeous. But most amazing were all the paintings, originals from hundreds of years ago. The master bedroom, as well as other rooms, looks out over Campo Santo Stefano. I can’t imagine living in such a place!

I want to own a door like that!

In fact, I think that’s why I love these videos so much. I’ve entered a number of Venetian palazzi, usually because they have been turned into museums or are opened for Biennale exhibits. Those are stunning, but it feels somehow different to view these properties that are for sale, that I could actually own (well, if I had more money, of course!). When I visit a palace, I never imagine actually owning it, so these videos feel more remarkable and awe-inspiring.

Okay, one more. This video offers a very different tour, but it’s snappy and fun. The altana is fabulous and inviting. I love the tall, rounded windows letting in all the light.

Picture me with a spritz

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Venice from the Air

I was lucky enough to have a window seat on the left side of the plane as I departed Venice. What a shot!

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Micro Mosaics: Who Knew?

I love being astonished by new things, and that happened on my latest trip to Venice. I visited Antichità al Ghetto, the antique store run by Maria Gabriella Emiliani and her parents. Maria Gabriella authored a chapter for Venice Rising about watching from her Venice apartment window as the 2019 floodwaters rose, and as the campo emptied out during the 2020 lockdown. It’s a reflective and touching story.

The outside of Antichità al Ghetto so you’ll know what to look for.
Milagros in the front window.
Here are a couple shots of the interior. The middle “island” is where the micro mosaics are kept.

But today I want to tell you about my surprise when I visited her shop and finally met Maria Gabriella. I was initially attracted to the miracoli–hammered metal depictions of body parts that people hang in churches in gratitude for prayers answered or for importuning the saints for help. Then I had to look at all the menorahs and crosses, the paintings and etchings, mirrors, fans, jewelry, and books, until I spotted a miniature gondola that I pined for.

But the centerpiece and specialty of the store is its micro mosaics: tiny pieces of jewelry, boxes, mirrors and more that feature really tiny pictures created with really tiny glass tiles. These were all Italian-made, with closely guarded secret techniques.

Views of some of the display boxes.

Here’s what Maria Gabriella shared about these lovely pieces of art:

“Our micro mosaics are definitely Italian, either from Rome, where this technique was first invented, and from Venice where it was further developed alongside Rome.
I am not aware of antique micro mosaics made out of Italy; it was something typical from our country, since the themes depicted with those tiny glass tiles were often Roman ruins, Italian landscapes, classical or mythological figures and allegories, which all were much liked subjects by the foreigners undertaking the Grand Tour in Italy who were looking for fancy souvenirs.
We can trace the origins of this amazing art back to the 18th century; it then saw its glory in the 19th century (as said, the Grand Tour gave great impulse to the production of micro mosaics) and it slowly declined in the 20th century.
Micro mosaics decorated everyday use objects like boxes, paper weights, letter openers, tables and, most certainly, jewelry.”

“Now there’s a renewed interest in micro mosaics. Every day more and more people fall in love with this art and become passionate collectors. Those who are most invested even become micro mosaicists themselves. So many customers of ours, from all over the world, come to our store to buy our pieces and proudly show us their recent creations.”

“As for the technique:
First the pattern/design has to be traced, then the colors have to be chosen, and I guess creating the colors is one of the most difficult steps, because after all, it’s always glass we are talking about.
A “thread” or very thin rod of glass has to be blown. Keep in mind that the alternative name in Italian of this art is “smalti filati,” like “enamel strings.” When the thread/rod/string cools down and hardens, it gets cut into micro tiles (micro tessere) as tiny and regular as possible.
The micro tiles were then arranged on a slab where the desired design had been previously scratched. A special “secret” mastic, the exact formula is still unknown, was then spread out. The artisans were indeed jealous of their workshop’s secrets, that in many cases meant fame and wealth.
Some colors were harder to make than others, like red. Venetians were indeed experts in creating the perfect ruby red.”

Maria Gabriella and her parents have shared their micro mosaics at Venice Glass Week, bringing something quite different to the many types of glass on display there. At the bottom, I’ve included three of their images from the website or catalogue; the other images are ones I took.

You can find the shop on the calle of the Ghetto Vecchio, just between Gam Gam and the Campo del Ghetto Nuovo.

A closeup so you can see the technique.

I had not heard of micro mosaics nor seen anything like this before. I hope you get the chance to visit Antichità al Ghetto, to meet Maria Gabriella, and to see the beautiful and often amazing things they have on display.

That’s me with Maria Gabriella as we enjoyed a coffee and pastry from a nearby shop.
A photo from their catalogue showing another astonishing piece of artisan work.
And here are a couple images from the website.
Here are a couple amazing photos from the catalogue.
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Daytime Nighttime

Two views of the sculpture outside San Giovanni Evangelista this summer. This sculpture, titled “The Sun,” is by Ugo Rondinone. Click here if you want to read more about the artist and his work.

Rondinone’s other works are inside the scuola. I’ve included some of those images below.

I like how the people in the painting seem to be locking eyes with the flying cloud person.
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Venetian Emoji #14

Another version of the hangover emoji. Still laying in bed. One eye open. Mouth is dry. Where is the drool?

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Gondola Stuff: Glass Mosaic

I’ve added new gondola-themed items to my collection! Luckily they were small and fit easily into my suitcase (and onto the shelf which is getting increasingly crowded with gondolas, like Bacino d’Orseolo at the end of the day).

I was strolling through the Rialto market stalls at the end of the day–not too crowded, so I could actually see the vendors’ goods as I went past. I usually don’t look too closely; in my past experience, most of these vendors sell cheap, touristy items that don’t interest me. But I spotted these new wooden items–gondolas, gondoliers, palaces, bridges–with glass tiles embedded in them. It’s hard for me to pass up a gondola!

“Do you make these?” I asked the young man tending the shop.

“I cut the wood,” he said, “and my friend, he puts in the glass.” Knowing these were locally made sealed the deal, and I walked away with my new gondola. “You do not want the gondolier?” he asked, referring to the tiny wood and glass figure that sat atop the gondola.

“No, just the gondola today, thank you!” I replied.

It looks monstrous here, but it’s only 3 3/4 inches long
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