The most difficult lesson of any art history student or would-be contemporary artist is that before one can evolve or revolutionize an artform, one must first become a master of that art. The Murano Glass Masters Franco and Mauro Panizzi are a pair of such rare artists who have surpassed the level of mastery of their craft and have indeed gone on to revolutionize designs, styles and forms of Murano glass.
While you may not have heard their names, it is highly likely that you have seen some of Mauro and Franco's work. The Panizzi brothers are in some ways a special secret, secreted away deep inside of the secret world of Murano glass, where they are called upon by everyone from independent designers, to famous glass factories, to internationally renowned fashion houses to carve, shape and perfect glass objects. (Mauro and Franco's clients have included the furnaces AV Mazzega, Venini, Carlo Moretti, Nason Moretti, Seguso, and Salviati as well as the artists Cristiano Bianchin, Maria Grazia Rosin, Diego Lazzarini, Giorgio Vigna, Yasuiko Tsuchida.) Masters of molatura, battitura, incisioni and fusione, Franco and Mauro are the men who add texture to many of the most sought after and luxurious works of Murano Glass. But, make no mistake, Maestri Franco and Mauro are not only highly skilled artisans, they are artists. In their workshop, in the collection designed and created by them, a contemporary style of Murano Glass working and design has emerged.
Brothers Franco and Mauro own the moleria, a “cold working” glass studio, of Panizzi Eugenio SNC. The studio was originally opened on Murano by their uncle, Marco Varisco, and eventually taken over by their father, Eugenio Panizzi. Both men were masters at carving and engraving glass whose work, focused primarily on engravings of crystal glasswares in the Bohemian style. (“Bohemian” is the expression, still widely used, to describe the style of cut, engraved or facetted crystal that was originally popularized by the glass masters of Bohemia.) Eugenio was widely respected for his mastery at carving intricate crystal objects, an artistic skill that he passed on to his two sons Mauro and Franco.
Inside their shop on Murano, Franco and Mauro have placed several photos, as well as remarkable glass works created by their father Eugenio.
When they took over the workshop, Mauro and Franco not only continued the tradition of intricate carving and grinding, but also expanded their skills and offerings to include the “battitura” - a deep carving and texturing of Murano Glass – sandblasting, and fusion of Murano Glass. Today, their skills are in extremely high demand by other factories and even designer labels. However, it is in their own innovative collection of Murano glass works that really shows what they can be done when exceptional skill is combined with unrestrained creativity.
What do you think "Murrine" or "Millefiore" Murano Glass looks like? Franco and Mauro's work will make you look again.
Fusion, in contemporary English, is a word used to describe just about anything that combines various culture and traditions to create something new. We regularly hear it used in relation to food and fashion. Fusion is also the perfect word to describe the original collection of works of Murano Glass created by Maestri Mauro and Franco Panizzi. Not only do they literally fuse pieces of Murano Glass together – a historic technique as old as mosaic work - but also because the unique designs they have created combine many of the most famous types of Murano glass – they make ample use of Murano's famous Murrine glass – and, the resulting pieces themselves - including Murano glass magic carpets, tribal masks and chopstick holders - clearly embrace cross-cultural artistic traditions and imagination.
Maestri Franco and Mauro were kind enough to let me visit their studio and observe their work on several occasions. There, despite the riotously bright colors of their finished work, I found myself submerged in an exceptionally calm and focused environment. As the fusion furnace worked it's slow magic of melting canes of glass into their desired patterns, each of the brothers was calmly engaged in making delicate incisions, smoothing edges, or grinding deep texture into glass. Of course, their work is best suited to people with focused eyes and steady hands! The only complaint I ever heard from either of them is that their hands sometimes get cold...
Franco and Mauro achieve different depths and textures of carvings, and texture entire pieces of Murano Glass, at machines fitted with various sizes of wheels made of various materials of different densities.
Molatura, battitura and incisioni are all techniques for adding texture to glass. These types of glass work are referred to as "cold working". It's cold not only because the glass is worked at room-temperature rather than heated, but also because there is a constant stream of water running over the wheel used to carve the glass. (I image the water is very important both in helping the maestri see the results of each cut clearly and also for washing away tiny shards of glass which could otherwise be dangerous.)
Just as experts in any field can disagree very much on the appropriate use of industry terminology, the maestri never did agree, though we discussed it extensively, to give me precise definitions of each type of glass carving. Is an incision any cut in the glass? Or is it a delicate, shallow cut, made vertically or horizontally on the piece? It seems that, at any point in the process of carving or texturing glass, the definition is different and it has to do with both how many different textures of wheel are used to work the glass and what texture is achieved in the end. Battitura, for example, is achieved using a rougher-wheel that leaves a depth of texture and matte look on the glass, whereas in mulatura a smooth and shiny texture is achieved by working the piece with wheels of increasing softer textures and materials.
Fusion of Murano glass is achieved by organizing and layering pieces of glass together, and then placing them in a furnace in which the glass is then melted together at an extremely high temperature. Franco and Mauro brought such a furnace to their studio in 1994 and have since developed exceptional styles and designs of fused pieces and are expert at creating deeply layered designs in glass works through fusion.
I observed much of the creation of one of the Panizzi's fused and carved Murano glass platters. Here, small slices of canes of colored Murano glass and murrine glass were cut and organized into a circular pattern and placed into the furnace. The resulting fused piece was breathtaking in itself; It was amazing how the ends of the murrine - in this case a rosette pattern murrine - showed through in 3-dimensional clarity. But, this piece is a Panizzi and texture matters here. Franco Panizzi set immediately to work carving it in a design that made it both brighter and more elegant and showed even more of the character of the murrine inside. The fused pieces in Franco and Mauro's collection include not only these platters, but also murrine paperweights, sculptures of magic carpets, wall hangings, glasses, jewelry and vases. These are just a couple more examples:
Seeing such a diversity of design and style in the collection created by the two brothers, I couldn't resist asking them which were their favorites. Mauro immediately directly my attention to geometric-designed wall hanging, whereas there was no single favorite for Franco, who went around the showroom pointing out a half-dozen pieces he'd be glad to take home. These are favorite pieces selected by each of the maestri:
Personally, I found almost too much to admire in the Panizzi collection - fine details, dramatic colors, a huge a range of textures - but when it comes to choosing favorites, they must be their stunning fused, carved, blown at a furnace, and then, of course, engraved glasses. Each of these pieces is as light as a feather and has a lovely texture that feels almost like sea glass. Meanwhile, here again maestri Franco and Mauro have used Murano's classic murrine glass to achieve a totally new design and, while they were at it, they also made whimsical delicate carvings on the pieces as well. Each of these strikes me as a small masterpiece of contemporary Murano glass:
During my most recent visit to the Panizzi's workshop, a pair of young travelers happened bye and decided to come inside to ask about shopping for authentic Murano glass. The Marchio del Vetro Atristico Murano, the official Murano glass trademark is used by the Panizzi brothers as one form of guarantee. "Another form of guarantee," We told the boys, "is too look for shops like the one you're in now, where the items are unique from each other and from the items in other shops. If you have arrived at the shop of Panizzi, you're doing very well!"
Don't be shy about visiting Mauro and Franco during your trip to Murano. They are located at #29 Calle delle Conterie, near the glass museam and the famous church of Santi Maria e Donato. In their small shop you'll discover original and unique works of Murano glass - pieces are available in all price ranges - the likes of which you will not see anywhere else in Venice. Meanwhile, as the shop and workshop are connected, you may have a chance to see them working yourself. Here's how to find Panizzi Murano:
OG Venice would like to thank Franco and Mauro for their patience with our interruptions of their work, but mostly for their beautiful work itself. Their collection gives all of us a chance to appreciate not only mastery at Murano glass working techniques, but also the use of those techniques in the creation of completely original - beautiful - works of Murano glass arts.
OG Venice Travel Guide is delighted to host this article on behalf of Foody, a local startup founded by a small team of young Italian entrepreneurs who have created a platform, www.foodyexperience.com, that allows both Italian and foreign travelers to experience local culture through eating local foods and getting to know the cooks who prepare it. We're not sure what we love more about this... Is it the concept of the fun and authentic interaction that travelers can have with locals over a plate of local food? Is it that we're so excited to support these local entrepreneurs with their mission to connect travelers with positive experiences of Venice? Are we just hungry and thirsty? Either way, OG Venice wishes all the best of Elena and Michele and looks forward to many many more Foody Experiences!
This is the story of a Foody Experience in Venice:
On 16th of May two Venetian cooks, Cecilia and Daniela opened the doors of their lovely house in Rialto, at the centre of the living room was a big table full of ingredients for cicchetti - Venetian tapas. A group of 16 Americans from the State of Iowa were invited in to learn about, prepare and eat local Venetian food together with these two Venetian foodies.
Cecilia and Daniela first explained the origin of bacari, traditional Venetian wine bars, the name of which translates into “house of bacchus”, (Bacchus being, of course, the Roman God of wine). Bacari are small, dimly lit taverns, cicchetti and other traditional drinks and snacks of Venice. Cicchetti are often accompanied by an "obmra", which translates to English as "shade". An Ombra is a small glass of wine and is called a "shade" by Venetians because they were originally sold by itinerant traders, who followed the shadow of Saint Mark’s bell tower in order to keep the wine cool.
Venice, a magical city full of history and heritage, has so many customs linked to food. And one of the best ways to discover Venice is to live and eat as a local person.
The local ingredients chosen by Cecilia and Daniela for their guests' foody experienice in Venice were top quality, delicious and very representative of traditional Venetian food: baccalà mantecato (creamed cod), dried tomatoes, robiola (cheese), eggs, herring, soppressa (salami). And, as one of the cooks is also a sommelier, their guests also enjoyed a few ombri with their cicchetti!
This experience was organized by Foody, the platform that gives travelers the opportunity to eat local food with local people. Foody provides travelers with a fabulous experience of culture through enjoying local foods in familiar and warm atmospheres. Our 16 American guests were really impressed by the taste of the food, all the things that they learned about Venice, and the warmth of their hostesses.
This is the Story of How Foody Came to Be:
Foody was co-founded by Elena and Michele, two Italian entrepreneurs who met in Milan. The great idea for Foody came about, as many great ideas do, during a conversation over a plate of pasta. The founders wanted to create something that gave people the opportunity of discover and taste the traditional dishes from the different regions of Italy.
Foody aims to lead travelers, Italian or foreign, on a gastronomic journey through Italy starting with the food on the table and the stories told by the cooks themselves. That is why Elena and Michele advise travelers to, " Eat local with locals": To understand the soul of a city you must always start from the food and from the table .
Coming Up With Foody: The Prosecco Experience!
We are in the Country of Prosecco; Also known as the "Prosecco Road"
Through the Veneto, runs a 120 km road lined with beautiful vineyards. It starts from the Conegliano Castle and runs to to Valdobbiadene.
Here is an opportunity to have a great food & wine experience!
During the Prosecco Experience you will have:
A Vineyard Tour
A taste of 5 different types DOCG Prosecco accompanied by delicious Cicchetti
All these things within a beautiful wine company in the hills of Vittorio Veneto - Treviso
Start: from 5 pm
Saturday, July 23rd
Prize: 25,00€ per person
If you also have the passion for local food and would like to arrange a Foody Experience similar to the cicchetti making class, the prosecco experience, or even a delicious lunch or dinner in a local home in Venice or the Veneto, write to: email@example.com. The Foody team will organize a wonderful Foody Experience for you!
So, this is Venice Italy. How much could there possibly be to see?
Actually, there is more than most people imagine to see and do here...
Part I: "Seeing" Venice
Many travelers come to Venice with an itinerary full of famous sites to see. There's nothing wrong with that! Venice is, after all, an enormous World Heritage Site, the historic residence of the longest standing Republic in history and, rightly, bursting at the seams with art and architecture to admire. It makes perfect sense that sightseeing is how most travelers choose to begin their experience of Venice.
While it's true that the main streets and "central" monuments of Venice can become overwhelmingly crowded with sightseers, it's also true that there's a very good reason that those crowds are flocking to those places. They - places such as the Palazzo Ducale - are spectacular artistic and architectural achievements; Beautiful even from the outside and housing innumerable treasures within. Though we strongly dislike crowds, we would never suggest that a first or even fifth time visitor to Venice avoid these places. Seeing Venice absolutely does involve seeing the monuments for which Venice is most famous even if getting there can be a tad uncomfortable at times.
OG Venice is happy to recommend Historical City Guides to those who'd like to get a more detailed introduction to the historic sights of Venice.
Finding a "center" in Venice? Tricky!
Visitors to any city, residents too in fact, naturally flock towards the city "center" where they expect to find... everything! Everything meaning food, drink, sights to see, public services, government offices, shopping, entertainment and whatnot. If Venice had such a center, it would certainly be Rialto. While again this area can sometimes become uncomfortably crowded with center-seeking travelers, it is also both a culturally important and often pleasant place to visit. San Giacomo di Rialto, the oldest church in the city center and the sight of the founding of the Republic, is here. The fish and produce markets, even for those not in a position to cook for themselves, are must-see sights of Venice. Meanwhile, the area offers lots of excellent food shopping, restaurants and congenial nightlife. It's no wonder that, even while the historic Rialto Bridge is under restoration, people continue to flock here.
Seeing Venice Right: Getting Lost and Loving It
People will tell you, and they are absolutely correct, that getting lost is the best and most rewarding experience that most visitors have in Venice. They might even say, "If you didn't get lost, you didn't see Venice". Or, even more bluntly, "If you didn't get lost, you 'did Venice' all wrong". There are many reasons for these sayings. In the first place, the streets of Venice are laid out as a labyrinth with very little rhyme or reason. Getting lost in such a place happens naturally. In the second place, the residential areas, local artisan shops, best restaurants, and loveliest little canals all exist beyond the "center" of Venice. One must get lost in order to find them.
Picky readers are going to notice what we said above, "If Venice had a center, it would be...". One could start a big political debate with that line. But in this case, we just want to point out to those who would like to wander off and explore Venice but may feel nervous about it, that no matter where you roam in Venice you will neither be lonely nor in want of services. Just as Venice has many city squares beyond Piazza San Marco, so does the city also have a series of what We're going to call micro-centers; concentrations of shops,bars and restaurants in each neighborhood of the city. One reason for this is historical. Venice always consisted of discreet neighborhoods and/or parishes each of which sustained its own populations.
There is a popular urban legend in Venice that, even today, one could happen upon an elderly resident who has never ventured out of his or her district. This is amazing to imagine in a city that one - though only one who knows the way - can actually cross on foot within 45 minutes. Meanwhile, there are wonders to discover - artisan workshops, lovely churches, galleries, family-run restaurants, secret gardens, quiet residential streets - and virtually nothing to fear, in every neighborhood of Venice. Wandering-off into the maze of Venice streets is an essential first step in seeing Venice.
"The Islands" of The Northern Lagoon
A complete visit to Venice naturally includes visits to the historical urban islands of Murano and Burano. Interestingly, though your guide book might not tell you this, the settlements of both of these islands predate the settlement of the main island of Venice and the founding of the Republic. Murano has been a global center for glass arts since 1291 when the Doge ordered all of the glass working furnaces in Venice to relocate to the island. It remains to the this day the center of the most historic and famous art of Venice: Murano glass. Burano, now famous for both the delicate laces still made by hand on the island and for it's brightly colored houses was once, and remained for nearly a millennia, a prosperous fishing village. An excursion to the islands is, therefore, not only a pleasant foray out into the lagoon, but also an important part of learning some Venetian history. (A small percentage of visitors also make their way to the island of Torcello, the actual sight of the first settlement in the lagoon, once the most heavily populated island in Venice, and home of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta with her marvelous Byzantine mosaics.)
Part II: Seeing more of Venice Italy
Before moving on, lets take a moment to congratulate everyone who did all of the above! While many writers-about-Venice will bemoan this as a "superficial" visit to Venice - we do have the major problem of having not yet met a Venetian - there's no denying that sightseeing, center-seeking, getting lost and finding one's way to "the Islands" is both a lot to do and a decent introduction to Venice. Good job! But, there is much more to see and do in Venice Italy...
Venice is a remarkably diverse contemporary city with something to offer visitors of almost any interest, background, taste or budget. Once you've gotten a slight grasp of the topography and historical significance of the city center and most the famous islands - or even before for that matter - it is to every traveler's benefit to ask yourself what you like and look for opportunities to do those things in Venice. Doing what genuinely interests you in Venice will give you your best authentic experience of the city and also put you in contact with the Venetian community. Among the many things to do here in Venice we have: Easy access to an amazing natural environment, gorgeous locally-produced artisan goods, an unfathomable number of artistic and cultural events happening throughout the year, divinely delicious local cuisine, and, though we may not be known for nightlife, we do have an aperitivo guaranteed to make your head spin.
Where in the World is Venice Italy?: Exploring The Lagoon
Venice exists both in and because of a unique and beautiful natural environment: The lagoon. The Venetian Lagoon, the largest wetlands in the Mediterranean Basin, provided protection to the original settlers of Venice - Romans fleeing the fall of the Roman Empire and the Barbarian invasions of what is now Northern Italy - a wealth of natural resources (especially fish and salt) which enabled the settlements to thrive, and, of course, the perfect conditions for the building and growth of the Republic of Venice. The UNESCO World Heritage Site designation for Venice includes both the main island of Venice and the lagoon. Small wonder, not only because of its unique ecosystem, but also because the lagoon is the sight of many a submerged historic church, convent and settlement. And, of course, one never knows when one might discover shipwrecks such as medieval galley and rascona excavated from the lagoon in the 1990's.
If you remember all that when you're out splashing around at the beach in Venice, you can justifiably say that you're both studying history and having a good time all at once! But, what nature, beach, wetlands and watersports lovers really need to know is this: Venice is a very compact city that offers remarkably quick and easy access to its surrounding natural environment. No matter where you are in Venice, you can be out on a boat in fifteen minutes or less! These islands - very different from one another and from central Venice - are easily accessible by public transportation and an absolutely joy to explore:
Those who's like to get even further out onto the water and have the most Venetian of experiences should consider going Fishing in Venice.
Shopping: Seeing Venice through Arts & Crafts
The Republic of Venice was both a great international trading power and a wealthy city which, particularly during the Renaissance, assigned great to value arts and artisan products. Uniquely Venetian products, such as Murano Glass, were protected by special laws governing trade and trade secrets. And, while Venetian products were most certainly promoted and sold abroad, they were also appreciated and acquired by the nobility within Venice. Thus, during the long reign of the Republic, did Venice develop unique and long-standing artisan traditions and many types of high-quality handmade goods which are still made by Venetian master craftspeople today.
Murano glass is the most famous artisan product of Venice, but there are many more historic artisan crafts still practiced in city. There are the spectacular beaded designs of the impiraresse (such as that by Master Craftswoman Marisa Convento of Venetian Dreams shown above), there are mosaics large and small. There is paper-making, printing and book-binding. The hand-carved oar-stands unique to Venetian gondolas are made by Venetian master carpenters and are now also recognized and coveted as sculptures. Venetian luxury textiles remain in demand, not only for clothing and accessories, but also for home decor. Meanwhile, Venice remains both a fashion-forward city and global center of the arts. We have a large selection of independent clothing designers, fine jewelry designers and producers, and myriad artist shops and galleries scattered throughout the city.
However, an important truth about shopping in Venice is that the best artisan shops of Venice can be very tricky for visitors to track down. Retail space on the central streets and main thoroughfares of Venice is fairly equally divided between the international-brand shops homogenous to any major city, and cheap souvenir shops that specialize in imitation Venetian products. The true craftspeople, artists and artisans, are dispersed throughout the side streets, and can thus be challenging to find. On a first-time un-guided visit, those who venture enough to get lost will find some of them, but very few others will. For those interested in discovering real Venetian products, OG Venice recommends either taking an accompanied artisan shopping walk in Venice, or learning a bit about the artisans you'd like to visit or the types of products you'd like to see before taking to the streets. Some of what you might choose to look for:
Into the Community: Eating and Drinking in Venice
Italy is famous the world over for cuisine. And, even beyond quality of food, Italy is famous for the warm and welcoming service that make food and drink establishments into both community staples and places to which even travelers insist upon returning again and again. Venice, while not famous for it, also has a tasty, warm, welcoming and unique food culture. In fact, though Venice is not yet famous for it, it is absolutely fair to say that a food culture that always existed within the local community of Venice is beginning to bubble to the surface of even the tourists' Venice. The cicchetti wars - these actually began in earnest about two years ago - have local bacari struggling to outdo each other with their freshly prepared crostini, frittura and local vegetables. They are also now seeing competition from many new openings specialized in regional wines and cuisine.
Meanwhile, shops are even beginning to offer Venetian specialties in quantities and packaging suitable for visitors to bring home. It is now possible to visit the farms and vineyards of Venice. And, regional food and liquors have finally made their way into local arts and retail events happening throughout the year. Do not wait until you leave Venice to start savoring Italian cuisine! We are the prosecco and grappa capital of Italy! We have 8 D.O.C. cheeses! The fish in our market are still flopping their fins. And, when it comes to ambiance, could there be a more beautiful place in the world in which to enjoy food and drink?
OG Venice travel guide includes a guide to Restaurants and Shopping for Food in Venice. We're confident that those who follow it will eat and drink well and in good company while in Venice. But, for those looking to experience even more of Venice through food, we also recommend:
What's Your Venice?
Many people travel to Venice with a genuine interest in the art and architecture of the city and a desire to explore her famous monuments. Others come for special events in the arts such as the biennale or the film festival. But many, if not most, others come with a sense of obligation to see the famous sites of the World Heritage Site of Venice and little information beyond that about what to do in the city. And, thus many people find themselves in stressful situations when it comes time to eat, drink or do anything beyond sightseeing in Venice. That's where their relationship with the city become tricky. Meanwhile...
Venetians, reputation to the contrary, absolutely do not hate tourists. What they hate is that so many tourists seem not to love Venice. It is understood, though perhaps unspoken, that one of the major reasons that so many tourists do not love Venice is because they have a superficial experience of the city during which they never touch upon the contemporary Venetian lifestyle and are thus unable to appreciate the genuine warmth of Venetian culture. Venice, OG Venice Travel Guide included, is responding to this challenge with myriad offerings of fun, contemporary and authentic experiences that give visitors access to the contemporary life of Venice. Many Venetians are offering to provide these experiences beyond the scope of their normal work because they have a genuine desire to show as many people as possible the best of Venice.
OG Venice would never accuse any traveller of having a "fake" or "inauthentic" experience of Venice. (Surely, whatever one does and whatever experience one has is really, their experience of Venice.) But, like so many others we do want to create access to the contemporary life of Venice for those who choose to explore it. What remains is for visitors to both understand that it is OK, even in an art and history packed World Heritage Site city, to ask yourself what you'd most like to do and to seek out those experiences in Venice. So, we're asking you: What's your Venice? If you tell us, we'll do our best to make sure you get to see it!
See More of Venice Italy by OG Venice now offers access to unique experiences in Venice and the lagoon including private boat, shopping and island tours. And, as always, if we don't have what you want, there's a very good chance that we know someone who does. Feel free to contact us with your questions about planning your trip to Venice.
OG Venice Italy Blog
Our Venice Italy travel blog is packed with both pretty pictures and useful information about life in the most serene republic of Venice. Enjoy!
We Recommend in Venice:
Venice Blogs & Websites We Love:
Naturally Epicurean -
Venice Food Guide and Healthy Italian Food Blog full of both excellent recommendations for eating out in Venice and lots of healthy recipes to try at home.
La Venessiana- Wonderfully Written and Curated Mix of History, Tradition and Recipes all Originating in Venice.
Contemporary Venice- Contemporary Art News & Itineraries
Colazione a Venezia - Breakfast in Venice
The ultimate journal of teas, coffee and pastries in Venice!
Detourism - Sustainable Tourism - Regularly Published Newsletter of Off-the-Beaten-Trail Tourism Suggestions for Venice
Gruppo 25 Aprile - The Blog of a Non-Partisan Citizens Group Sharing Statistics About Venice and Citizens' Concerns about Life in The Lagoon.
Cook in Venice Blog - Recipes, Cookbooks & All the Food News of Venice
I Am Not Making This Up Blog - Witty, Humorous and Impeccably Written Observations about Life in Venice
Capturing Venice Blog - Images, Poems and Prose Dedicated to Venice
Venezia Nascosta (Hidden Venice) - Images and Posts Discussing the History, Mysteries and Traditions of Venice
Venezia da Vivere - The Cultural Activity Guide to Venice