Friday, June 12, 2015

Meet Italian Artists on your next trip to Italy

Italian Stories arranges Meetings
with Local Artisans in Italy

The young minds who crated Italian Stories

Spending several months a year Home to Italy is only one of the employee ‘benefits’ of editing a blog.     Since I no longer vacation in Italy, the plan is to explore beyond the tourist sites and find people and places not written about in a tourist book.

Early this year my Venetian contact, Monica Cesarato *( mentioned a new group of Italians creating a way to experience Italy:  Italian Stories   

Italian Stories has created  a method for travelers to find “authentic experiences with Italian artisans”.    “You don’t visit a land, you go live it”, such a refreshing approach to travel….. something I try to accomplish on every extended stay in Italy.

They offer opportunities to visit artisans in their laboratories (workshops) or spend a day learning the ‘secrets’ of a skill.     Artisans are available throughout Italy, in villages as well as cities.   New locations and artisans are added  every week.  

 If your only contact with artists in Italy is in a museum or a store,  a workshop visit will allow you to experience ‘art’ in a different way.  

You may have a hobby or an interest that you can explore from the Italian view point.    The list of artistic fields is extensive:   goldsmiths, glass bead artisans, wool and felting, handmade taro cards, pottery, baking, woodworking………..the list goes on. 

The interactive map on the web site allows you to search geographically,  selecting visits that correspond with your travel itinerary.  Be sure to plan ahead so you can coordinate visits on the days available.

My experience on an Italian Stories visit: 
After contacting Italian Stories members, Eleanora and Enrico, I offered to share their new idea with my readers.   Italian Stories suggested a meeting with one of their artisans:  the Goldsmith in Firenze.   

I return to Florence every year and scheduling an appointment was simple.    The studio for Nerdi Orafi Incisori was located within sight of the Ponte Vecchio and the master goldsmith has been working in this shop since he was a teenager. 

The original tools, equipment and work benches are still the heart of the studio but you also feel a wonderful ‘vibe’ when you are there.    To me it was an underlying joy for the work they do.   This is a family business that has been located here for decades.   The art produced may have an historic origin nd technique but the resulting pieces are modern.

The process to create one of the stunning pieces on display starts with a sketch/design, is hand crafted, polished and finished.   

A specialty of this studio is the fine engraving work and their historic technique of ‘hammering gold’ into stunning link necklaces and bracelets.   

I shall be booking another visit on my upcoming trip Home to Italy to learn about the ancient technique of 'hammering gold'.  

This was my favorite piece, just stunning.

Hammered gold is a specialty of this studio

                                                                                Wedding rings are inscribed

                                                    The Florence lily in a beautiful design with diamonds.

My next visit was to an expert in Venetian Glass Beads

Searching for an address in Venice is similar to a scavenger hunt!
You twist and turn and often just follow the massive crowds in the hope that they are going in the direction you need!    

I have been to Venice a number of times and still get hopelessly lost but that is the beauty of Venice.   This shop was easier to find than I expected.

I was already a Face Book friend of the artist since she was a friend of Monica's.*   Since no studio tours were offered the only day I was in Venice, Marisa kindly stopped her work to chat with me in her small store filled with the most amazing pieces

                                        Each bead is different

Everywhere there are beads, jewelry and creative combinations: beaded slippers, statement necklaces, a charming evening purse and so much more.   I may have seemed that  I was not paying attention because I would spot another treasure while Marisa told me some of the history of Venetian seed beads and their impact on history!
all photos below courtesy of Marisa

This is definitely  on my list for return visits to learn more about the beads of Venice and if offered, perhaps to create a small beaded treasure to take home.   Now when I see sea beads anywhere in the world I remember what Marisa taught me about the history of 'the beads'.

A few of the many other artists you can visit:  

Carver, bookbinding, confectioner, joiner, food designer, engraver, jeweler, mask maker, paper maker, perfumer, sculptor and many more.

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