Venice is so incredibly romantic under the rain. Yet it is also true that it can be more difficult to wander through its streets when bad weather ruins your plans. Rains are frequent in the Fall and Winter, weather can turn quite cold from time to time, and aqua alta can always happen, but the good thing is there are many attractions one can visit when the weather in Venice gets wet. Plus, there is nothing better than a good cup of Italian hot chocolate, or “cioccolata calda” to make bad weather much more bearable.
First of all, it is necessary to pack with rain in mind. When it rains, the streets get crowded by merchants selling knee-high boots and umbrellas, yet it is always best to travel with proper clothes (and enough pairs of shoes to have a dry one on hand). Most moving around in Venice is done by foot, so it is recommended to pack water-resistant clothes that keep you warm and comfortable. A strong umbrella is also a good choice, because it can get quite windy in the Venetian Lagoon during the colder times of the year season (you will definitely notice it on board of water bus).
Aqua Alta is what Italians refer to when speaking of high water that floods the Saint Marc’s Square and neighboring alleys. To some visitors it may seem like a true Venetian adventure, but to locals it represents a true nightmare. If you want to experience this phenomenon and dare wonder through Saint Marc’s Square, you will find it is impossible to cross it by foot since the water can reach knee level. What people use in these situations are a set of wooden runways that rise above the water, allowing people to walk across the piazza and reach the Basilica San Marco and the Doge’s Palace. Most businesses, however, will not be operating as usual since their owners will be busy getting the water out of their shops, trying to avoid the damage caused by it.
Yet as romantic and advanterous wandering the flooded streets may be, there are many attractions that will shelter you from the rain and satisfy your thirst for art, history, and beauty. The Peggy Guggenheim Museum is a wise choice for someone interested in modern art. Overlooking the Grand Canal, this museum holds a vast collection of artworks by masters such as Picasso, Pollock, and Kandinsky, while also having a rather big collection of Italian futurist paintings by artists like Balla and Boccioni. It is also quite close to a vaporetto stop, so you won’t have to get all wet by the time you reach it.
If you crave to experience Venice’s Golden Age, and Peggy Guggenheim feels too modern, you will probably like Ca’ Rezzonico. This palazzo on thye Grand Canal is the mirror of Venice’s luxurious lifestyle during the 1700’s; it is the perfect depiction of opulence and decadence of that age. Denying the difficult economic situation Venice was going through, the citizens decided not to care, and flaunted their richness by hosting extravagant masquerade balls and decorating the ceilings with exquisite frescos. This palace is now officially Venice’s 18th Century Museum and it contains some of the city’s most precious frescos by Tiepolo, enormous Murano glass chandeliers and fine collections of antique Venetian furniture. If all this is not enough, just try imagining Casanova dancing across the ballroom in a fancy costume and mask, and that should do the trick for your time travel.
For those looking for an evening treat, La Fenice Opera House is definitely where you should go. This theatre is one of Europe’s most important opera houses. Its name, which literally means “phoenix”, reflects the theatre’s history marked by the fires that brought it down three times. The first incident happened in 1774 and it took 18 years for the opera house to reopen its doors. The second fire, which came in 1836, burned down the whole theatre again but it took it only one year to renovate and reopen its doors. The third time, however, was the result of arson, leaving the theatre severely damaged, forcing it to close its doors in 1996. With endless hard work and Aldo Rossi’s guidance, the opera house reopened its doors in 2004, delighting the public with repertoires by Beethoven, Wagner and Stravinsky, and staging opera pieces such as La Traviata. In spite of the theatre’s severe fashion standards, you should not be afraid to buy tickets and enjoy an evening of exquisite classical music. Tickets online may sell for a couple hundred euros, but if you go to the theatre and buy your tickets on that same day you may even find seats for 30€.
For those looking for delicious treats of gastronomic nature, there is nothing cozier than sipping some hot chocolate or famous Italian coffee while the rain is pouring outside. Venice is full of small bars and <a href=”http://www.glassofvenice.com/blog/2015/11/travel-tips-for-eating-out-in-venice-where-to-eat-like-a-local/”>authentic local restaurants</a> that can shelter a weary visitor from the rain, offering excellent meals made from fresh local ingredients in historic settings. If you happen to visit during wintertime, you may be lucky enough to see some mercatini di natale (Christmas markets) along the streets. These markets offer seasonal treats such as candied fruit, delicious bread and mulled wine. The Rialto Market is another great choice; here you will see an enormous variety of fruits and vegetables of such beautiful colors you will want to buy them all.
Rain is never fun for travelers, but when it happens in Venice it transforms the whole city into a real life painting. If moving around in the rain is not your thing, grabbing a cup of coffee and enjoying at the amazing view will be a real treat. When it rains, Venice becomes that ancient city depicted in old artworks, reflecting an mysterious island hidden behind the mist, serving as an inspiration for great composers like Vivaldi or Albinoni, for scores of artists from Tintoretto to Monet, for writers and poets, including even Shakespeare. As beautiful as Venice may be, the city can look even more magical under the rain. That is an experience you surely do not want to miss.
Examples of Murano Glass bullicante technique
The quality and tradition that characterize Murano’s finest glass furnaces have always been worthy of the highest appreciation. This prestige is due mostly to the glass masters’ hard work and dedication, which are the very core of Murano’s most famous trade. Glassmaking has been passed on from one generation to the next one, with constant innovations and timeless originality. The loyalty and respect with which this trade is treated is possibly the key to Murano’s success. Glass masters all over the island have always worked with endless vitality, and this creative vein is evident in every glass artwork that comes out of any furnace, with improved techniques and bewildering effects.
Always ahead of his time and anticipating any trend, Archimede Seguso was the perfect example of Murano’s best talent. Knowing how to interpret the world around him and always renewing and perfecting his production techniques, Seguso came up with one of the most astounding and marvelous of innovations, the bullicante technique.
The “bullicante” effect is amongst the most famous glass making techniques and it is seen quite often around the island of Murano. If you’ve had the fortune of strolling along the streets of Venice, you would have noticed beautiful glass pieces with small air bubbles trapped in the inside, possibly stopping to wonder how that seemingly impossible effect is achieved. This peculiar effect is obtained by placing a piece of molten glass inside a metallic mold with spikes, very much resembling a pineapple’s texture. These spikes cause small holes on the surface creating a pattern all around the glass piece. After it’s been left to cool down for a few moments, the whole piece is submerged in molten glass again. This second layer completely covers the first one. However, thanks to the thick consistency of glass, the holes previously impressed on the first layer are not covered, thus causing air to be trapped between both layers of glass. This process can be repeated several times, creating a pattern as complicated as the glass master wishes. This technique gives not only a sense of depth to the whole object, but also an incomparable decorative effect, famous for its originality.
The bullicante technique became famous during the 1930’s thanks to Archimede Seguso. Parting from his famous sommerso technique, Seguso took it to another level by taking advantage of the thickness of the glass. By using a more viscous composition, he found a way to leave small incisions unaltered and empty, in spite of covering them with another layer of glass. And while working on other light artworks like lamps, he figured the spiky tool he used on those lamps could also be helpful for the creation of dents. Seguso therefore figured out it was the size and shape of the metallic spikes that determined the position and depth of the pattern impressed on glass. He started experimenting with up to six layers of glass, trapping “bollicine” (bubbles) of air inside every layer. These bubbles reminded him of the bubbles in boiling water, thus calling this technique “bullicante” which literally means “boiling”. After mastering the technique, he went as far as decorating the inside layers with gold leaf and other colors, making each piece even more valuable and unique.
The bullicante pieces rapidly became famous amongst the Seguso artworks and were successfully exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1936. His “golden gray” vases and his “Pomona” sculpture were widely appreciated. One piece from that Biennale still exists today, and it rests inside the palazzo of Cassa di Risparmio di Venezia. It is a beautiful round vase, with a soft hint of purple, an impressive bullicante effect, and gold leaf inside; a real treasure from 1936. From this date onward, Seguso started using the bullicante technique for many artworks such as vases, animal figures, sculptures and lamps. Seguso’s specialty was the noted contrast of contemporary modern effects next to traditional historic pieces. Such is the case of lamps, where he experimented with modern patterns and compositions that would come in contrast when put together with his classic chandeliers. A very beloved collection was the aquatic themed one, for which he designed delicate fish sculptures characterized with fluid and delicate lines, leading everyone’s imagination back to the sea.
This technique, just like any other, is unexplainable to the ignorant eye. This kind of craftsmanship turns out to be rather mysterious to any observer and also undecipherable by any technological means we may be used to. This is the loyalty Murano has kept for its furnaces, the quality and originality of its creative minds, working on Venice’s most finest trade since before Medieval times.
The glass production in Venice represents one of the most important and influencing factors of the city’s economy, and it is no secret that the best glass furnaces reside in Murano. When walking through the streets of Murano, it is almost impossible to name and enumerate all the intricate and complex techniques used in the production of these artworks. And if we were to enter a furnace and listen to the craftsmen talk, we would probably simply hear confusing words such as filigrana, retortoli, reticello, or spirale, without even knowing which technique is which. Every technique, tool, shape and type of glass has its name, quite distinct, and part of the glass masters’ vocabulary since almost a thousand years ago.
The most ancient piece of evidence documenting the existence of glass artworks dates back to the year 982, and thanks to this document, in 1982 the world celebrated a thousand years of Venetian glass artworks. Many other historic documents testify the work of furnaces along the Rio dei Vetrai river in Murano, where one can still find the finest and oldest furnaces in the city. In order to keep the industry’s secrets and glass masters from leaving, the Republic of Venice came up with several acknowledgements and distinctions to those who would create the finest and most creative of glass works. The Republic also protected some of the most important discoveries and innovations of those times, such as the “filigrana a retortoli” and “filigrana a reticello” that became famous around the sixteenth century.
Continue reading »
Glass making can be one of the most complex and mesmerizing crafts in the world. Since ancient times, glass has always enthralled people with its intricate forms and beautiful translucent colors. To achieve this, glass masters have worked tirelessly to develop and improve various techniques that have been passed from one generation to the other throughout the years.
When thinking of Murano glass, it is highly unlikely that we think of sand, yet this rare material is at the base of all glass production. Glass is firstly a mix of siliceous sand, soda, lime and potassium, which is put to melt inside an oven at a temperature of around 2,700 Fahrenheit. After it has become flexible enough, it is removed with a pipe that will be used to blow the glass out while the glassmaker shapes and models it. The forms and colors given to each piece depend on the tools and chemicals used during its production. The techniques are also important; since they define the way minerals will react when they come in contact with glass and the chromatic effects they will leave on each piece. The first glass works with relevant artistic techniques can be dated back to the Roman period, in which raw materials such as sea shells, ashes and sand were used in its fabrication. Nowadays, the glass masters of the Mediterranean have refined and improved each technique, mixing it with delicate craftsmanship and impeccable Italian style.
Murano Art Glass Angel Fish – Sommerso Swirls
One of the most common techniques is “Sommerso”, which in Italian literally means “submerged”. This technique is used to create several layers of glass (usually with different contrasting colors) inside a single object, giving the illusion of “immersed” colors. This is done by uniting different layers of glass through heat and repeatedly immersing them in pots of molten colored glass. This technique is quite recognizable: it is characterized by an outer layer of colorless glass and a thick layer of colored glass inside of it, as if a big drop of color had been captured inside the artwork. When one first sees these objects, it seems almost impossible to conceive such beautiful colors being locked so perfectly inside what would seem solid glass, and then undoubtedly one begins to wonder how ever did they manage to achieve such a complex game of shapes and colors right in the middle of a clear glass object.
Continue reading »
Murano glassmaking history is filled with extraordinary stories of success and innovation. While some glass masters’ stories may be more recent than others, they have all been characterized by clever inventiveness and dazzling dexterity. Among the most famous families of glass masters in Murano we find Fratelli Toso, with over 150 years of experience in the field. Theirs is a story of true Italian innovation and solid family bonds that have endured some of the industry’s most challenging times, proving to be tougher and stronger with the passing of time.
Fratelli Toso Murano Glass Label
Fratelli Toso Murano Glass Tumblers
In a period of doom and detriment that damaged Venice and its surrounding islands, the Toso represented Murano’s spark of hope after Napoleon’s fatal occupation. It was the end of the 18th century, and Murano glass furnaces started to close, while some artisans preferred to simply flee the island. During this period of darkness and gloom, Murano’s ancient glassmaking techniques and traditions were gradually forgotten. Nonetheless, the Toso’s first steps in the glassmaking industry represented a confident recovery for Murano and its factories.
Continue reading »
When talking of the great glass masters of Murano one does not necessarily need to go hundreds of years back in history. We need only look a few decades back to find some of the most ingenious and innovative minds behind this craft. Amongst them we find Carlo Moretti, a company established no more than 60 years ago, and that has proven to be a true pioneer and innovator in the history of Murano glass.
Created in 1958 in Murano by brothers Carlo and Giovanni Moretti, this company stands as one of a kind in the city’s vast history of glassmakers. Carlo Moretti gathers the excellence of Italian design, hundreds of years of Venetian tradition and immense entrepreneurial courage. The firm, born out of love and admiration for glassmaking, takes inspiration from the Venetian Lagoon and its beautiful colors. It is the very same city that acts as constant inspiration in each and every one of their designs, reflecting its movements, colors and vibrations through glass. Carlo Moretti is one of the few remaining artisan factories (fabbrica d’autore) in Murano. This means each piece that comes out of their furnaces does not only bare a serial number, but also a huge research background and customization. Collecting Moretti artworks means being fully aware of owning one of a kind pieces produced in limited editions, authentic and with masterful know-how.
Carlo Moretti Murano Showroom
A lover of classical music, traveling and architecture, Carlo Moretti was a true Venetian. Born in Murano in 1934, he studied to become a lawyer but would soon change course after discovering his passion for Murano glass. Fully dedicating his time and perseverance to glassmaking, he founded Carlo Moretti along with his brother, Giovanni, in 1958. Being the glass lover he was, Carlo took full control of the creative side of the company, looking over the design and production process at all times. Suddenly gaining recognition, he was honored with multiple awards and conference requests, sharing his passion and experience with the rest of the world. It was his love for different cultures and constant learning that gave him a keen eye for innovation. His time spent traveling and visiting uncountable museums around the world gave him an ample vision in classic and contemporary design, opening his mind to new and unforeseen trends in the glassmaking industry. Moretti’s passing in 2008, coinciding with the brand’s 50th anniversary, left his brother Giovanni at the front of the company, along with a personal style never to be forgotten.
Continue reading »
Venice is buzzing with expectation and joy as this year’s Carnival draws near. With countless events, concerts and parties, Venice has the perfect scenario for an epic celebration. This year, the city’s Carnival will start in late January, offering immersive experience, festivities, and great food for locals and visitors.
Just like every year, the city chooses a theme for the Carnival, and this year’s theme is “Creatum”. It encompasses the appreciation and knowledge of various trades and crafts practiced in all of Venice’s districts, showcasing them to locals and foreigners. To honor these crafts, the city is organizing an exhibition of historic archives at the Archivio dello Stato di Venezia (Venetian State Archive) opening from January 30th to February 9th. The stage will also support the Carnival’s theme, presenting the play I Rusteghi directed by Giuseppe Emiliani on February 3rd at the Carlo Goldoni Theater. Culinary talents join the feast and present Il Campo dei Sapori e delle Tradizioni (The Square of Tastes and Traditions) from February 4th to the 9th at Campo San Geremia. This will be an explosion of flavors and traditions all mixed together in a small pavilion near the train station (Ferrovia), offering the region’s most typical and representative dishes, a story being told through flavors of unique artisan delicacies.
Continue reading »
With famous admiration for the beautiful Venetian island of Murano and an ongoing interest for innovation, the Salviati family have traced their own and quite important path in the history of Murano glassmakers. It has never been said that in order to belong to Murano’s coveted family of glass artists one needs to be born into one, and Salviati has proven this to be right. With a past in mosaic production and an incomparable sense of pioneering, this family brought a twist to the established rules and traditions of the glassmaking industry.
Continue reading »
Just when you were starting to think that Venice couldn’t possibly become more magical, Christmas transforms this city into a perfect winter wonderland. While cities around the world deck their streets with lights and ornaments, Venice disappears into foggy wintry sights worthy of any painting by Canaletto. For those seeking peace and tranquility during the holidays, Venice may turn out to be the perfect venue full of concerts, hot chocolate, mysterious fog and, occasionally, snow.
The month of December brings serenity and quiet to the city, due to lack of tourist crowds strolling down the streets. This is the time of year when Venice is taken over by fog and mist, turning the island into a hauntingly beautiful scene. Although Venice does not go over the top with Christmas decorations, one can still find fantasy lights and garlands adorning its main streets and gondolas. Locals take advantage of this chilly time to gather together and enjoy a cup of cioccolata calda (hot chocolate) inside cozy bars. Contrary to the typical hot chocolate we all know, cioccolata calda in this region is rich and thick and will surely keep the cold at bay.
The weather is mostly humid and cold, with occasional snow and acqua alta Iflooding) in Saint Marc’s Square. It is advisable to be well prepared when it comes to choosing appropriate clothing; the wind and rain that sometimes take over the city do not make it easy for visitors to walk around. However, there is still a chance of getting lucky with sunny days every now and then. When this happens, Venetians will be more than ready to bundle up and go out for some Christmas shopping around the city.
One of Venice’s most charming experiences during this season is visiting the joyful Christmas markets, or mercatini di Natale, as locals call them. Springing up between Rialto and Saint Marc’s Square and starting from mid-December, the Christmas markets are a cheerful exhibition of Venice’s most exquisite arts and crafts. Some of these markets offer fine handcrafted articles like purses, wallets, stationary, jewelry, and ornaments. Others offer exquisite Venetian products that range from gorgeous Murano Glass to elegant Burano lace, to hand-embroidered fabrics, to timeless antiques. Typical food and beverages are also part of this show, sometimes accompanied by live music too. It is also common to find a wide selection of Nativity scenes and objects (presepi), most of them handmade, especially near the Rialto Bridge by the church of San Giovanni Grisostomo. And in spite of it being Christmastime, the Venice Carnival is never far from people’s minds, as we see colorful hand-made masks being sold at every market. Naturally, the whole city is also adorned with countless Murano glass decorations, and it is a great idea to visit the island of Murano for the Glass Christmas Celebration (Natale di Vetro), where visitors will be charmed by unique Christmas-themed objects made of Murano Glass.
While hot chocolate may sound alluring when hopping from one bar to the other, the Christmas markets offer a wide selection of traditional and tasty foods and drinks. Roast chestnuts, chocolates, candied fruit and mulled wine are just some of the yummy treats one can find shopping along the lanes. The famous panettone, or pandoro (Christmas cake) is found in almost every Venetian home and restaurant around Christmas.
The winter season also brings music and concerts, and so the churches and opera houses are full of crowds eager to spend the evening listening to classical music masterpieces. It is easy to find the programs by reading the posters spread throughout the city, or by visiting the year’s program online. The church of La Pietà, on Riva degli Schiavone, usually holds some of the best concerts by Vivaldi, who was once that church’s composer. Some locations like Ca’ Rezzonico, Palazzo Moncenigo or the Scuola San Rocco hold concerts performing traditional Italian Christmas songs; while at world-famous La Fenice opera theater the winter program ranges from Mozart to Verdi offering priceless enriching performances. Prices and schedules always vary from place to place, some being free, some charging nominal admission, some requiring previous booking.
While walking around the city with almost no tourist crowds to obstruct the views and waiting lines, it is also advisable to keep in mind that most tourist attractions are closed on certain days around the holidays. Museums like the Doge’s Palace, the Galleria dell’Accademia, Museo Correr and Ca’ Rezzonico close on both December 26th and January 1st. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection, however, is possibly the only museum in Venice to stay open on the New Year’s Day. Schedules for the vaporetto (water bus) may also vary and should be taken into consideration for moving around the city.
Hanukkah is also celebrated in Venice, in the part of sestiere Cannaregio known as the Ghetto – the site of the first Jewish ghetto in the world, where Judaism and Jewish traditions are kept alive and one can see beautifully illuminated menorahs, unique Murano Glass judaica, and delicious kosher food prepared for this special celebration.
All these joyful celebrations and performances lead Venetians to the very much awaited Christmas Eve dinner (la vigilia). During this evening, Christmas tables all over Venice overflow with traditional Venetian Christmas eve dishes mainly focused on fish and seafood: Venetian risotto, ravioli in capon broth, eel, mixed fried fish and an assortment of seafood with vegetables and polenta. When it comes to visitors, they should book the restaurant quite early, since many of them tend to run out of seats or simply close that day. Nonetheless, many great Venetian restaurants like La Zucca, Osteria Enoteca Ai Artisti, Alle Testiere, and Trattoria La Furatola, are always open for this special evening. After the Christmas Eve dinner, many Venetians take a stroll down the streets and canals and head to Saint Mark’s Basilica to attend midnight Mass, starting at 11.30. The midnight Christmas mass at San Marco is a unique experience for both Venetians and foreigners. This night, the Byzantine basilica is lit with hundreds of candles and incense, the famous golden mosaics set aglow, and the entire experience echoes the celebrations of the centuries past. Families and visitors alike flock to San Marco for grand celebratory experience on this special night. But the celebrations don’t stop here; Italians keep on celebrating with the Feast of Santo Stefano, on December 26th, leading the way to the church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari to enjoy a free live concert and choir.
This is the kind of luxury Venice offers, the richness of its beauty and the bliss of its peaceful wintry canals, that bring it closer to those otherwordly visions we recall from ancient paintings. This is what makes Venice an even more magical place around Christmas and winter holidays.
Weaving together almost one hundred years of tradition and a unique sensitivity, the Gino Cenedese & Son glassworks is one of Murano’s finest and oldest glass companies. With a vocation for excellence and the love for traditional craftsmanship, the glass masters of this furnace have interpreted Venetian history through color and form, accomplishing global acclaim. The Cenedese Murano Glass is world-famous not only because of their indisputable quality and talent, but also because out of many Murano Glass companies, this is probably the one with the widest range of collections and variations.
The story of Cenedese fame begins in 1916 with a small 9-year-old boy, Gino Cenedese, who learned the most essential glassmaking techniques from different masters around Murano. By the end of the second World War in 1946, he founded the Gino Cenedese & C. glassworks, which immediately gained international recognition thanks to the high quality and refined style engraved in every piece. Although Cenedese opened this glass factory with important partners by his side (Angelo Tosi, Alfredo Barbini, Gino Fort and Pietro Scaramal), he was left as its sole owner by 1949, taking the factory through the twentieth century with vision and commitment.
Continue reading »