I didn’t realize there were so many kinds of Italian crackers and chips! Apparently Marisa Convento did, though, and she had set them all out for us to enjoy when she opened her jewelry shop, Venetian Dreams on Calle della Mandola, for ArtNight Venezia 2018. She also shared this secret: “You know how to keep the Prosecco cold all night? You freeze a bottle of water and put it with the Prosecco. Then later you have cold water, too!”
Here, Marisa shows us a glass commendation medallion, given to her by the Venetian government for her role in preserving Venetian heritage.
Certainly, there was plenty of Prosecco to go around to the friends and visitors at the shop. When I arrived, a cadre had gathered in the back section by Marisa’s work table. You see, she is the Impiraressa, the empress of glass bead stringers, and a maestra at creating unique jewelry. In fact, many of the women in the room were wearing her distinctive necklaces that look like branching red coral.
Marisa and her friend stood up to model their unusual dresses. “These are for un’abbraccio, for the hug,” she explained as she stretched out her arms and demonstrated where one’s hands could go as they reached through the oval slots at the side of her dress. They had both bought these dresses at the shop near San Marco. Everyone in the room sported some artistic detail, from the red reading glasses with colored doodads attached at the corners, to the plastic sweater that looked like lace (“Oh this? I’ve had this old thing for twenty years!”), to the chic pageboy haircut surrounding a pixie face. ArtNight apparently inspires.
I chatted with foodie Monica Cesarato about mutual friends and contributors to First Spritz Is Free: Confessions of Venice Addicts, which she and Marisa both contributed to. Marisa apologized for being slow to write her chapter, as her husband Maurizio had recently passed away. Her piece is a lovely tribute to him, the man who introduced her to Venice. In fact, she writes, “My husband made of me a Venetian. This mainland girl was patiently trained in all traditional habits, so that I could be recognized as one. But I also needed to be Venetian my way, an Impiraressa, a bead stringer, as beads were my acquired passion in the following years. That was the ultimate dream he helped me fulfill. Maurizio died on the 21st of September 2017. He left me the Venetian heritage as a gift. He used to drink his spritz with bitters, but there was nothing bitter about our life together.”
Marisa is but one artist who keeps alive Venetian traditions by making her jewelry, purchasing from traditional bead makers, and teaching others about this age-old heritage. You can read her full chapter by downloading the ebook for free here: First Spritz Is Free, and if you like it, you might be inspired to support more Venetian artisans and organizations to show your love for this city we’re all addicted to.