Hands on Venice: Making Mosaics

particolare1fiori2.jpgI get a such kick out of folks who come looking for “secret Venice” in the day-and-a-half they have planned for their visit here. Almost every tour company in town offers something along that line, as it is in such demand; unfortunately, few participants realize that the millions of travelers passing through each year all request to see Secret Venice, and as a result, there is little of it left — there is instead only what one has allotted time to see. That doesn’t preclude, of course, each of those millions being astounded one-by-one at the legendary late-night view from atop the Ponte Accademia, for example. A place doesn’t have to be a secret to far piassèr.

There is one place that may still qualify as somewhat-secret Venice, and it also offers the possibility of a hands-on experience with a craft that’s been an integral part of the city’s artisan history since its Byzantine inception. Everyone knows Murano glass, if nothing else than by name. But there’s more to glass than Murano…

orsoni mosaici - 40.jpg ORSONI has been one of the most prominent and innovative producers of the enamel glass (smalti) and mosaics since when Angelo Orsoni established his company in 1888. (His worldwide success was launched when the captivating sample panel he created immediately caught the Art Nouveau eye of the day at the Paris’ Great Exhibition in 1889.) Selections from their color library of a seemingly infinite number of tones and hues have decorated cathedrals from the San Marco Basilica to Sacre Coeur to Saint Paul’s and more, and today remain in demand for use in works of contemporary artists and architects of all types, all across the world.

orsoni mosaici - 32.jpg For a truly unique Venetian experience, anyone can learn to create your own mosaics using the Orsoni tesserae and smalti, right in the factory classroom, in any of the three-day, week-long, or two-week workshops. They offers a variety of courses (limited to a maximum of six participants), from intro to micro to master to portraiture, for travelers, designers and architects alike, in a bright studio overlooking the Orsoni garden. Classes are taught by either program founder Lucio Orsoni, or his protège since 1981, Antonella Gallenda, or both; longer classes include tours of Torcello and Basilica that house some of Venice’s most famous mosaic works.

camera4c.jpgYou may also choose to lodge right on the premises in Domus Orsoni, where each room is not only comfortably appointed, but each uniquely and uncommonly decorated in (you guessed it) their own mosaics.

For complete course descriptions, calendar, prices (this year ranging from €480 to €1800, depending on the class) and how to book, see the courses page in the web site, or download their pdf brochure. From North America, you may contact

JoAnn Locktov
e-mail: joannlo [at] orsoni.com
tel: 415.383.1399 (California)

for complete information. From any other country, check the web site and contact Liana Melchior at Orsoni directly.

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If I can ever manage it, I’m going to enroll in a class myself. (Hey, I learned to vogare, didn’t I?)

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