For our first day in Venice we decided we would try to find Vittorio' s glass workshop. Meeting Vittorio and his wife was a highlight from my previous visit to Venice. Vittorio is a true master craftsman, and his work is known internationally, with a strong following in the US. His shop is a true treasure trove with little "armies" of birds, insects, fish, and other creatures lined up on display.
A lot of the pieces are from his private collection, and as such, are not for sale. These are the pieces he deems worthy of keeping. Like any true artisan he is very particular and if a piece is not perfect he will not keep it. Almost perfect pieces he will sell. Any others he is not happy with are not available. While small, the shop is bursting at the seams. His workbench too is here, as his his reference library.
When I first came to Venice in 2006, Vittorio had no reference to Australian birds. I made myself a promise if I ever returned to bring him an Australian bird book to add to his collection. This I did. In the interim of course, he has got one. A different edition to the exact one I brought. He seemed touched though that I brought him the book, and exchanged it for one of his catalogues. Very kind of him.
Vittorio speaks basically no English, his wife generally translates, although she was not at the shop today. So we made do with both of us chatting away, and smiling a lot.
I gave Vittorio one of my new business cards, with the little Rainbow Bee Eater on it. He genuinely loved it, then took an image from his wall to show me... a micro mosaic of a bee eater which his friend had made. I am sure he will add my card to the display of items on his wall.
The process of selecting one of Vittorio's pieces to bring home is a pure joy. Last time I purchased a bird each for Mum and Mr T. This time I chose a piece for me.
While it was always going to be a bird, with 100 or so to choose from, it was a challenge. The window display was entirely birds, and some cabinets were dedicated solely for birds too. Frank liked a large hummingbird, and while it was exquisite with metallic sheen gleaming across its "feathers" it didn't touch me the same as some of the smaller birds. So, back to choosing.
I finally had a short list - one smaller hummingbird. Selected from three he was beautiful and as I am also looking at doing a mosaic hummingbird had certain appeal. Frank liked a little Kingfisher, complete with fish hanging from beak. Yes, he too was gorgeous. Eventually though I settled on a little Italian bird. A Cinciarella he is a little yellow and blue bird, with a seed in his beak. Very chubby and cute.
As for Frank? His final choice, which I did not see coming, was a large spider! The delicacy of his legs (the spiders, not Frank's) has to be seen to be believed....this is what makes Vittorio the artisan he is.
With a final hug and a photo we left Vittorio and his beautiful studio, both clutching our parcels, smiling and knowing that this would be one of the highlights of our trip.