Tag Archives: La Ricerca

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: www.nosyparkerblog.wordpress.com

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

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Miscellaneous Venetian musings

It’s Saturday afternoon and I’m noticing the different rhythms on the Gran Canal. During the week there are many barges picking up garbage, and loading and unloading building materials and boxes. The labels on the boxes remind me of UPS labels. And they are all the same. On Saturday there only seem to be pleasure boats: many gondole, rowboats, a singing crew that sounded like a choir. (We wondered how they found so many crew members with good voices. Oh, I forgot. I’m in Venice, where everyone sings!), water taxis, water buses (called vaporetti and traghettos), motorboats and speed boats. Everyone goes at a pretty slow pace except the ambulance and police boats. It is surprising to see such sudden speed when everything is just humming along. This whole scene is a view that never tires me.

I love to sit on my tiny balcony or in the window seat and wave to the people passing by on gondole. I’ve even been the subject of some photos as they go by. I waved to a gondolier today and he mouthed “Ciao” to me. Quite cute.

Ristorante Da Raffaele

Two nights ago we were all awakened by a wide boat trying to go down the narrow canal alongside our apartment (which feeds into the Gran Canal) and scraping as it went.

Da Raffaele Grilled Fish Presentation

Friday night we had the most wonderful meal at Ristorante Da Raffaele thanks to our Venetian friend (and local university professor) Shaul. The restaurant owner, Renato, came to our table throughout the meal to see how we were doing. Gabriana told him it was the best gnocchi in her life! All the other people at the tables enjoyed her enthusiasm! Lucky for me, our temporary houseguest Hannah joined me in the mixed seafood platter (lots of yummy shellfish). It was all so amazingly fresh and grilled to perfection. They even brought little glasses of our favorite wine (Moscato di Asti) with the delectable desserts! The atmosphere, the food, the people… it was all so wonderful.

Me, Renato and Gabriana (L to R)

After dinner we saw that there was an open store called La Ricerca nearby that looked interesting. This is an understatement. It was one of the rare true Venetian stores where the owner, Allesandro, is an artist and the other things he carries are made by friends of his. The shop featured handmade leather items, including wonderful masks, book covers, stationery, book marks, and many things covered with swirled paper and bits of maps.

Allessandro and his wonderful graphic map of Venice

We noticed a poster of Venice and he came over and explained each tiny part. He was a wonderful story teller. He said the poster was his idea, but he commissioned an artist to do the drawings. We got one and are trying to figure out on which wall we can study it most closely at home. If you live near us you are welcome to come and see this fascinating poster (pictured behind Allessandro in the photo at the right).

Allessandro was closing his shop so he walked us home. We had gotten lost on the way there so it was very welcome. He regaled us with stories all the way home. And he invited us to his workshop where he works on leather.

Cabanas at Lido Beach, Venice

We saw Elisa, my landlady from two years ago, and went to the island of Lido. It has a beautiful stretch of beach. This picture shows how it is different from California beaches. People rent these little cabanas for the summer season. The same people rent year after year and it is very sociable when everyone is there. We were there the day after the season closed. We walked way down the beach, away from all the crowd, and swam by ourselves in the water, which was warm and very refreshing!

We went on the tour of the island of San Servolo, led by Elisa’s niece, Giovanna. I had  been to her wedding two years ago, so it was nice to see her again. The island was beautiful. I can see why it was recommended.

Gardens at San Servolo

The tour was of the main building, which houses an international university now, but had been a convent and then a mental hospital that seemed more like a torture chamber. The artifacts and the images were very disturbing and we all had trouble sleeping that night.

There is so much more to tell, but I’m sure you are getting tired. I will write more later.

PS: Please also follow Gabriana’s blog, Nosy Parker, to read more about our Venetian adventures: www.nosyparkerblog.blogspot.com. All the photos in this post were taken by my daughter, Gabriana. And please, as always, we LOVE your comments and suggestions and encouragement. It truly feels like you are along on the trip with us and makes us want to share more!

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