Venice has a long tradition in craftsmanship, and her name evokes images of exquisite masks and stunning glass pieces. Despite waning interest among the younger generation in the rather laborious and manual work, several artisan shops can still be found around the city, producing works of art with care and taste. Here our selection of the best artisans shops in Venice.
One such shop belongs to Leonardo Faggian, a mascherer whose store is located in Fondamenta di San Basilio, at Zattere. Apart from his beautiful papier-mâché masks, he also makes scenic designs for important companies and for the Historic Regatta held on the first Sunday of September. He is the author of the pantegana, the huge rat that can be seen at the Festa sull’Acqua, the opening event of the Carnival season.
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Another notable shop belongs to the four Franceschini sisters. Find their creative and finely detailed masks at their shop “Peter Pan” in campo Santa Maria Mater Domini, in the former red-light district whose calli and campi names reflect its origin.
Head out to Pellestrina, the island between Lido and Chioggia, for a fascinating visit to the thirty-something women artisans who still make lace using spindles or, in the Venetian dialect, the cordele a massete. Watching Graziella Vianello and her companions at work, listening to the humming of their spindle is akin to being in a mesmerizing concert.
Battiloro and tagiaoro were ancient jobs kept alive today thanks to Eleonora Menegazzo who makes the precious golden leaf. Gold, silver, and copper are transformed into very thin sheets that are used for decoration as well as for use in the food and cosmetic sectors. Her workshop in Cannaregio, that used to be the dwelling of Titian, produces gold sheets that make their way to Milan and Madrid, and even as far away as Thailand. This father and daughter collaboration has the distinction of being the only ones in Europe to produce them by hand.
In Campiello delle Strope, in the Santa Croce district, the lutist William Marinello has a small workshop. His guitars must produce perfect sounds otherwise he breaks them into pieces. In fact, his instruments are called Momojiri, the Japanese word for “peach”, a synonym for perfection.
From Benevento, in Southern Italy, comes Fernando Masone. He is the only craftsman in Venice who manufactures paper. He works in the cloister of the former church of Santi Cosma e Damiano at Giudecca, making and embossing paper. From the windows, you are welcome to watch him pulp the cotton, knead it, weave it at the loom, and then shape it with different moulds. Find him at CartaVenezia.
Lastly, if you make your way to Banco Lotto 10 in Salizada Sant’Antonin, you will find many beautiful clothes made by female inmates at the Giudecca prison through a social co-operative program. They also produce one-of-a-kind bags and accessories from recycled PVC.