We've moved from Baltimore, Maryland USA to Venice, Italy in pursuit of living our dream!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Countdown to Christmas, Venice Style - Day 4

Victorian style advent calendar

Ciao tutti! 

Grazie mille to all of you for reading and keeping up with my Countdown so far.  Please leave comments here, I would love to know what your feedback is. 

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the calendar I selected for today. I'd be very tempted to construct one of those for myself. Might have to tuck that idea into a folder for next year. Just maybe.  I love the vintage look of it, love the gold here and there. Gives it a little bit of glitz. 

And speaking of glitz, that's exactly what's behind door #4 today.  Come along with me, I'm going to take you on a little field trip, so I can show you what's behind the door at Cannaregio, #5182. 

door bell Mario Berta Battiloro

We're visiting at the workshop of Mario Berta Battiloro, the last real producer of gold leaf left in Italy, and all of Europe for that matter. The Battiloro (literally gold beater) here is keeping the over 1,000 year old tradition of making gold leaf (and also silver and other minerals). The family craft began here in Venice in 1926, with this location opening in 1969. Today the whole operation is run by Marino Menegazzo, his wife (Mario Berta's daughter), their two daughters and 4 other staff. 

Battiloro sign

adjusting the gold foil
There is no machinery here. Every step is done exactly as it has for hundreds of years. Every bit of pounding of the gold until it is feather light and only microns thin is done completely by hand.  

Mallets for pounding gold leaf
 A series of heavy mallets are used to beat the gold, over and over and over again, until finally, Marino deems it perfect.

QA the gold leaf
It is a fascinating process to watch, especially because nothing is automated. The gold, silver and other types of leaf produced here have been used all over Venice, and around the world on building projects, works of art, and even edible gold and now cosmetic products.

For me, being able to watch the work here at Mario Berta Battiloro was indeed like taking a step back in time. It's not often you meet an entire family so dedicated to preserving their craft. There's a bit of icing on the cake as well if you visit the Battiloro, because #5182 Cannaregio is also the home of another famous Venetian, Tiziano Vecellio, also known as Titian, one of Italy's most famous painters of the 1400's.  Walking in Titian's house gave me goosebumps. Seriously. 

For more information see the website www.berta-battiloro.com.  
Visits to the workshop are by appointment, for a small admission fee.

As Venice's population dwindles, artisans are forced to close their shops. Those that are left are a dying breed, unfortunately for all of us. I hope you will seek out these special doors next time you are in Venice, and treat yourself to a bit of the "other" Venice, the real Venice. 

I haven't forgotten the bonus -Link to Day 4 -Countdown to Christmas 2014. It's Babbo Natale !! 

Today's advent calendar is  from 2gypsygirls.com


Polly Harding said...

Karen how fascinating. I had no idea it was a craft done by hand. I'm keeping a list for our next visit. Xxx

Barbara Neibart said...

I have chills just reading this. Such an amazing and historical craft. I'd love to go next time I'm in Venezia!

Sandra Jordan said...

I love this blog idea, it's great to learn more about the real Venice

Rob C said...

Karen, loving your Venetian Advent :-)

karen said...

Thanks, Polly! Yes, the Battiloro is absolutely one that should go on your list. When I'm in there, I get the pressing need to go home and gold leaf everything I own, it's so beautiful!

karen said...

Sandra, thanks so much for reading along with me! I've been blogging for 9 yrs now, since I moved to Venice. Much of my life is wrapped up in these pages! And very scary that so many people know so much about me from reading them. But, on the positive side, I have met, and made cultivated so many wonderful friends from around the globe because of this blog. I'm a very lucky person because of that.

Hope you'll continue opening Venice advent calendar doors with me this month!


karen said...

Thanks, Rob! You and Nat are back here soon, si? Please let me know when you are free, we must get together! Can't wait to see you both!

big hugs,

Rebekah Lyn said...

What a treat to get to watch this process in person. I fell in love with Venice when I visited more than 10 years ago and your blog helps me live there vicariously.

karen said...

Grazie, Rebekah! You've made my day. Is there anything you'd like to see more of here on the blog? Less of? Would absolutely love input. Anything at all.


Rebekah Lyn said...

I love all the behind the scenes you've been doing with this series. I also enjoyed your videos from your rowing practice. I've looked for virtual tours of the city online, but haven't had much luck. I have a photo of a church we stumbled on that I can't recall the name of so I keep watching your photos to see if you post it. :-)