Venice’s finest historical artisan shops
In today’s article we will walk you through a unique itinerary to discover Venice’s most beautiful historical artisan shops. Venice is not just big brands and souvenirs: its essence also lies in traditional shops that belong to its history and which, despite the passing of time, have stayed loyal to ancient traditions. Some of these businesses are still running and it’s definitely worth visiting them. You will have to walk a bit away from the most touristic spots of the city, but this will enable you to discover something truly unique. Hence, the perfect chance to bring home unforgettable memories of the most authentic Venice.
Atelier Pietro Longhi
Speaking of traditions, this is a key-address for Venice’s undisputed landmark, the Carnival. Indeed, in this atelier, the tailor (and artist) Francesco Briggi handcrafts historical and theatrical costumes, perfect reproductions of precious period costumes. This atelier supplies not only the Venice Carnival, but also of famous artists as well as fashion and costume designers from all over the world.
The showroom can be visited on appointment.
Where: in Scuola Grande San Giovanni Evangelista, in San Polo.
The Valese Foundry is located in Cannaregio and it is the last existing artistic foundry in Venice. It proudly handcrafts copper and bronze items, some of which are symbols of the city, such as the lampposts of Piazza San Marco and the golden horses that decorate the sides of the gondolas, the typical Venetian boats.
The manufacturing process is still the traditional one, the so-called “a tassello” (lit. in blocks), which uses a wooden or iron frame, called “staffa” (stirrup) or “libro” (book). It consists in pouring into the moulds the incandescent metal, previously melted at about 1300 degrees.
If you’d like to bring home a souvenir from the Valese foundry, you will also find bells, knockers, chandeliers and handles.
Where: the foundry is located in Fondamenta Madonna dell’Orto, while the shop is in Calle Fiubera, a few steps away from Piazza San Marco.
Fallani artistic screen printing atelier
The Fallani screen printing atelier is one of the most important in the world. It houses an exceptional historical archive that boasts over 1000 works, dated from the 1960s till our days. The signatures are international and include, among many others: Mario Schifano, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Emilio Vedova, Salvatore Fiume, Aligi Sassu, Jože Ciuha, Renato Guttuso, Mimmo Rotella, Hans Ricter, Max Bill, Joe Tilson.
When in 1968 Fiorenzo Fallani opened the laboratory, screen printing was still quite unknown in Italy. Fallani was teaching this subject at the Academy of Fine Arts, while in the US screen printing had already spread, as it was particularly suitable for the pop art.
Fiorenzo’s son, Giampaolo, has recently reopened the atelier with the aim of keeping alive the creative flame that has characterized this place since its first opening. For this reason, the atelier hosts artists from all over the world who wish to experiment new techniques to reproduce their works, but it also organizes cultural events and workshops open to everyone.
Where: Cannaregio 5001/A
Luigi Bevilacqua Artisanal Weaving
In our itinerary of Venice’s historical shops we could not but mention the Tessitura Luigi Bevilacqua. This is the only weaving laboratory that still uses the original wooden looms of the ‘700. Here brocades, damasks, velvets and other fine fabrics are commissioned by the most famous palaces and churches in the world. Weaving with one of the original looms is an extremely slow and tiring process: in one day a weaver makes about 35-40 cm of fabric.
The most complex fabric is the soprarizzo velvet, an excellent workmanship Luigi Bevilacqua’s shop stands for. A true masterpiece made of two levels of fabric, the upper one in cut velvet and the lower one in curly velvet.
Where: Santa Croce, 1320
This business was born in 1911 on the initiative of the Moretti brothers: Ercole, Norberto and Iginio. At that time they decided to ride the wave of success of the Rosetta beads and the millefiori mosaic, whose production had indeed been launched by them. Later on, they became the first producers in Italy of the famous “oriental pearls”, an imitation of natural pearls. Shortly after, in 1968, it is thanks to Ercole Moretti that the murrina pendants became a fashion trend. It is exactly in this laboratory that the intuition of using a copper bar to create easy-to-reproduce murrine shapes was born, making the production of pendants scalable.
The factory-museum is an absolute must for all the fans of industrial archeology. Here everything dates back to the post-war period, when the company reached the peak of its success.
Where: Fondamenta Navagero, 42 – Murano.
Did you know that there is a forcola, the oarlock of the gondola, exhibited even at the MOMA museum in New York? The “forcolaio” is a full-fledged profession and there are only three left in Venice. Paolo Brandolisio is one of them, a pupil of the famous Giuseppe Carli. After the master’s death, in the summer of 1987 Paolo Brandolisio – not yet in his twenties – was invested by the responsibility of running the shop as a worthy heir of Carli; but, above all, of passing on his master’s art together with the other Venetian remèri (oarsmen).
The atelier can be visited on appointment and still keeps the original furniture of the early 1900s. A shop, but also a museum: here you will find forks of all times and sizes, but also paintings and artefacts.
Where: Calle Corta Rota, 4725.