Video: A Cruise Passenger’s Guide To Exploring Venice
[Transcript] Hi, I’m Ralph Grizzle, and I’m in Venice, Italy. In this video, we’re going to look at some of the arts and crafts that have kept this city alive and that give Venice its life. I hope that on your next cruise to or from Venice, you’ll take time to visit some of these hidden gems.
If you really want to experience Venice, you could not do better than meeting the people who make up this great city’s cultural heritage. They are the merchants of Venice, the artists and craftsmen.
Their shops are all within easy reach of the Venice Passenger Cruise Terminal, and you’ll enjoy getting to their workplaces as much as you enjoy meeting the people who create Venice’s greatest treasures.
You can visit textile shops that boast the world’s finest fabrics; glass artists who carry on one of Venice’s finest traditions; lace makers who artfully needlework intricate designs to create world-renown Venetian lace; the master craftsmen who build gondolas and the accessories that steer the gondolas; you’ll meet mask makers and costume makers; and artists who work with paper as well as silver and glass.
These are just a few of the people who make Venice so special.
And by visiting their shops and purchasing their goods, you support local artisans and craftsman, so you can feel good about how you spend your time and money in Venice.
If you’re staying in Venice before or after your cruise, I recommend the newly opened Molino Stucky Hilton. A long-neglected 19-century flour mill, the much-loved landmark was transformed into a luxury hotel. The Molino Stucky is a good base to begin your adventures in Venice, and it’s right next door to the first of our featured artists.
Directly beside the Molino Stucky Hilton, on Giudecca Island, visit Fortuny Textiles, where you can spend time in the showroom and factory that carry on the legacy of the brilliant Mariano Fortuny, who lived in Venice until his death in 1949.
Board Molino Stucky’s free water shuttle to cross over to San Marco and make your way to the Venetian palace where you’ll find Rubelli Textiles Showroom. Make sure you see the Rubelli Collection, which brings together age-old Venetian know-how and the passion of five generations.
In the nearby Santa Croce district, you’ll be mesmerized by the production of fine fabrics on antique hand-operated looms at Tessitura Luigi Bevilaqua. And if you’re lucky, you’ll even meet Mr. Bevilaqua himself.
Board a vaporetto, Venice’s efficient and inexpensive public waterbus, to reach the island of Murano, where you’ll get to see the glass masters at work.
Step inside the shop and factory of Archimede Seguso. Seguso was a master glass artist who was born in 1909 and worked until his death in 1999. Meet his son, Gino Seguso, who carries on his father’s legacy.
Before leaving the island, stop in at Elite Murano where you will see elegant hand-blown glasswork as it has been produced since 1986. You’ll enjoy seeing glass artist make carafes, glasses and stemware. One popular pattern called ‘Reticello’ and dating back to the 17th century, was inspired by fishermen’s nets.
You’ll no doubt want to experience one of the oldest Venetian traditions: a gondola ride. See how gondolas are built at Squero San Trovaso, where you will witness the few remaining master craftsmen building gondolas the way they have been built for more than a century.
You can smell the fresh cut wood in Saverio Pastor’s shop. Watch Pastor as he builds oars and forcole, the rowlocks and oarposts used in traditional Venetian gondolas. You’ll see Pastor saw raw wood into the intricate designs that give gondolas not only beauty but also functionality.
If lace is your thing, you’ll want to meet Lucia Costantini, who has made lace since she was a child. Born in Burano, she had the privilege of learning the old secrets of needle-lace from the women in her family.
You can learn lace-making yourself from Paola Cellini and Annabella Guardalben Benetti. The talented ladies teach courses in embroidery and traditional Burano lace-making.
A lot of the masks you see sold on the streets of Venice are not true Venetian. To see real Venetian masks, visit one of the two shops where Alberto Sarria makes masks using traditional materials and design.
Try on a Venetian costume worthy of Carnival at Nicolao Atelier Costumi d’art. With any luck, you’ll meet the affable and flamboyant Stefano Nicolao, who oversees a studio featuring more than 10,000 period costumes. You’ve likely seen Nicolao’s costumes, as they’ve been nominated for many Oscars.
Squeeze into the small shop at the Goldsmiths’ Arcade, situated at the foot of the Rialto bridge, to see and hear the work of the jewelry makers. Brothers Stefano and Daniele Attombri construct handmade jewelry using old Murano glass threaded on long stems of silver. Remarkable.
You’ll enjoy meeting Alberto Valese and appreciating his art. Valese’s passion is paper. Step into his small shop, situated on San Marco, to see the wonderful collection of hand-crafted books, paper, stationary and more.
To learn more about the people in this video, their art and their shops, download our helpful guide.
And on your next visit to Venice, take home an heirloom that will remind you of your visit and give you a story to tell time and again about the merchants of Venice
This Ralph Grizzle reporting from Venice. Grazie mille.