Redefining Beauty Videos: Cencia Scarpariola

ABWIV Cencia Scarpariola

I look so worried in the thumbnail shot on this video! But do not fear–there’s nothing to fret over in this post! Here I bring you the story of Cencia Scarpariola, which this street on the island of Burano is named for. But she’s not the only woman being honored here. Here’s the rundown:

Burano’s lace industry was nearly dead. And so were the Buranese in the winter of 1871-1872 when the lagoon froze over and the fishermen couldn’t earn their dinners.


Painting showing the frozen lagoon at Fondamente Nove

In stepped Princess Maria Cigi-Giovanelli and Countess Andriana Marcello, who wished to revive the lace industry to help the Buranese help themselves. But when they looked for women who knew the traditional lace stitches, they couldn’t find anyone! Eventually, they located Cencia Scarpariola, who remembered the Venetian point lace stitch as well as others that had made Venice’s lace the most valuable in Europe at one time.


Postcard showing Cencia Scarpariola

Cencia wasn’t sure how to teach the stitches to others, so Anna d’Este, the local school mistress, stepped forward. She learned from Cencia and then taught the craft to a small group of young women. The industry breathed again, and women began to support their families alongside their men. Today’s ABWIV video will give you some more details and a sense of place.

Here’s a lovely film I came across that shows lace makers at work in 1935:

Lace Makers of Burano 1935

And here’s a virtual tour through the lace museum on Burano:

Museo del Merletto, Burano

I have a full chapter on Cencia, the Countess, the Princess, and the schoolteacher in my book A Beautiful Woman in Venice:

About seductivevenice

Teacher, writer, traveler, dancer, reader, photographer, gardener.
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2 Responses to Redefining Beauty Videos: Cencia Scarpariola

  1. Nancy Schwalen says:

    Beautiful lace. I wish the first link had worked too.

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