Alessandro’s workshop and a baby named Charlie

Today we contacted Alessandro again. We had met him on the night we ate at Da Raffaela a few weeks ago and he said he would take us to his workshop. On the way, it was chilly, so I stopped and bought a black cardigan sweater at United Colors of Benetton. It’s so much easier to do things like this when you are walking and pass the store. We didn’t have to drive there and find a parking place. We just stepped into the store, found it on the shelf and bought it. Of course, I did try it on first!

By the time we called Alessandro, he was ready to go for lunch. So we did the same. We weren’t hungry enough for a regular restaurant, but we didn’t want to buy a sandwich from a vendor and then have to find a place to sit in the shade and then find (and pay for) a toilet afterward. I didn’t know there were in-between places. We found a “snack restaurant” and could buy sandwiches and sit at an outdoor table; when I asked the waiter if he had any other kind of meat besides ham then he informed me huffily: “This is not a restaurant, madam.” It has become one of our favorite lines to repeat to each other for a good laugh, along with “This is a church. Do not behave indecently.” along with a sign Gabriana spotted in Verona that said “NO SALES ASSISTANCE,” which seems to really spell out the customer service vibe in many stores here.

Another one of our favorites was a sign on the front door of a store we saw (that I had seen on the last trip) said “We open some time.” It happened to be open and we went into a store filled with what looked like Burning Man costumes with huge suit jackets painted with crazy designs and fit for black light. I could not picture anyone from Venice wearing any of the merchandise! Even during carnival!

As we were sitting and having our lunch we noticed a young father and his baby at a table nearby. His wife was also at the table, along with each of their mothers. We couldn’t take our eyes off the father and his baby; he was holding him and kissing him and walking with him and singing to him. It was really dear to see. So, of course, we stopped by on our way out and told him how much we enjoyed watching him with his baby. Diane and I couldn’t remember our fathers behaving that way and we told him. He assured us that “all dads love their babies like this! They just might not show it.” And he said how beautiful he thought his baby is. He was from Brazil and his wife was from Slovakia and their baby’s name is Charlie. I told him that I had a friend named Charlie.  Here is a picture of a dearly-loved Charlie and his doting father.

Charlie and his loving father

The happy family

When we finally found our way to Alessandro’s again, he took us to his workshop a few blocks away. He had big machines that did the cutting and pressing. It’s really a place where they cut all the leather and papers and make all the books. He said his father makes the marbleized papers at home. We saw the bookmark cutter shaped like a ferro and he asked us to each choose which color of leather we would like. Diane and I each got shiny turquoise and Gabriana got pink suede. Then he took the large poster of Venice that he created and cut all the bookmarks from it. He used the cutting machine and the mold for the bookmark. He had molds for all the shapes he cut. We each chose which bookmarks we wanted to bring home as gifts. It means so much to have seen the whole process.

I would really love to know who is reading this blog. Please make comments, however long or short. I like to get a feel for who I’m talking to. It truly feels like you are along on the trip with us and makes us want to share more!

And please also follow Gabriana’s blog, Nosy Parker, to read more about our Venetian adventures:

The pictures were taken by Gabriana Marks, Diane Rauchwerger and me.



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10 responses to “Alessandro’s workshop and a baby named Charlie

  1. Nan DeJarlais

    Wow! You are busy blogging, aren’t you, my friend? And I’m enjoying all of it, very much. You write just like you talk. ‘Sounds like you are having a wonderful time and spreading your enthusiasm for life to all you meet, I’m so happy for you and your “entourage”! Nan

  2. Julie

    I used to work in retail and thought I would have my own shop some day. But the thought of always having to open at designated hours convinced me it was not going to be my future. “We open some times.” Genius! Maybe I’ll rethink my position.

  3. Karen Thomas

    Keep writing dearest Jude. Your voice fills me. Love always, Karen

  4. Jude, you put me in mind of how a friend described her sister. She said “Joyce has never met a stranger.” How I wish I was there, to make your acquaintance! Ciao, bella.

  5. I loved how you just went up to the young couple and spoke to then and took their pictures. I loved all the pictures and the whole story of your day.

  6. I enjoy reading about your adventures and experiences.
    Happy Birthday Jude
    Hugs and Kisses – Jasmine

  7. Denny Kenny

    What service in Venice???Last trip to Venice my grandchildren had placed an order for some glass lollies the same as the ones I owned. I went in a lovely little shop and spied 2 totally bored young glamorous assistants and explained that I needed 20 identical lollies (so the grandchildren wouldn’t fight). The one serving me huffed and puffed and proceeded to slowly count out the fragile pieces with great pomp and ceremony to the tune of “ti amo” which was blasting away on their radio behind the counter. Now, every time I hear that song we laugh at the memory of the 2 rude Italian girls in that shop.

  8. Hi, Jude. It’s me, Bert, just letting you know I’m reading your blog (and Gabriana’s too). I am so glad you are having a great time in Venice.

  9. Kido From Belgium

    I didn’t know you were writing a blog, I landed here via Gabriana’s facebook.
    Now I know where Gabriana got her writing skills from !
    I’m retroactively enjoying Venice with you at this moment through you pen/keyboard.
    Please let me know when your book gets published, and I’d like to pre-order if possible.
    All the best & love,
    your kido from Belgium

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