Category Archives: Sightseeing Venice

Story of Ester Exhibition, Palazzo Grimani

Veronese descends on Palazzo Grimani

After a long, complex restoration, these spectacular canvases that normally soar overhead in Chiesa San Sebastiano have been brought down to earth at Palazzo Grimani until July 24.

Story of Ester Exhibition, Palazzo Grimani

A must, must see.

Cupola, Palazzo Grimani, Venezia

The Palazzo Grimani, unique in the city for construction and style (more Roman that Venetian, really) is a site too rarely seen by the first-time traveler, but one that should be at the top of any returning visitor’s list. The palace is unusual not only for its style, but also in that it does not host large permanent art collection — which the building’s unusual (for Venice) architectural features are in primo piano, brought to the fore.

The absence of a large art collection also makes the Grimani the ideal display case for temporary exhibits like the one there now, Veronese’s The Story of Ester Revealed. Until they are once again reinstalled in their original position on the ceiling of the San Sebastiano Church — which is chock full of other Veronese works and where the artist himself is buried — each of these three magnificent canvases occupies its own room, lit perfectly to highlight the over two-year restoration directed by Giulio Manieri Elia and funded by Save Venice.

The process of the restoration is introduced in a video on the piano nobile, and highlighted in illustrated panels created for each canvas…but you could remain in total ignorance of Veronese, Ester, Grimani and all the rest and still be wowed by these magnificent works.

Veronese exhibition, Palazzo Grimani, Venice

Veronese, The Story of Ester

Museo di Palazzo Grimani?
Ramo Grimani 4858, Castello (off the Ruga Giuffa below Campo Santa Maria Formosa)

Thru July 24, 2011

Mon 9 – 2pm
Tue – Sun, 9am -7pm
Ticket office closes 4 minutes prior

€7, €5 reduced

Info: +39  041-520 0345


When is a typewriter store a work of art?

Ah, but it’s not really a store, and it’s not just any typewriter. It’s the Negozio Olivetti — and a pièce de resistance of architect Carlo Scarpa.

This is the first article by a new contributor, Gioia Tiozzo. Gioia is a journalist, born in Venice and still living here. She’s interested in communication and the Internet, and would like others to know her city better; to that end she has established the web site (in Italian for now, but scan her daily photo blog). Gioia is also interested in the concept of Venice as a water city, and given that water is an indispensable element of life, how important it is to have great respect for it.

Gioia will be submitting articles of interest from time to time, with me translating them. When I received this first one on the recently-restored Negozio Olivetti, I ran right out and shot the photos. Welcome, Gioia!


After years of closure and a 12-month restoration, the magnificent showplace for historic Olivetti office machines has returned to take its rightful place on the Piazza.

Designed by renowned architect Carlo Scarpa (who also is responsible for the impeccable renovation in the basement of the Querini Stampalia), the Negozio is considered a masterpiece of modern art. Conceived in the ‘60s, it has never been a point of sale of typewriters and calculators, but rather the prestigious company’s elegant exhibition hall overlooking one of most beautiful and famous squares in the world. Closed in 1997, the following year Negozio sold tourist paraphernalia. But the restoration in 2010 supervised by the Superintendence for Architectural Heritage has restored all the property’s complex beauty, making it once again available for all to enjoy.

Negozio Olivetti’s story began in 1958 when captain of industry Adriano Olivetti asked Scarpa, one of the greatest architects of the twentieth century, to create a space that would represent the Olivetti company and their products. The result is a space of linear perfection where light and elegance interact flawlessly. Marble, mosaic tiles, glass, water and wood are integrated so seamlessly that the entire space becomes a work of art in and of itself. The marble staircase that leads from the ground to the upper floor is today considered a symbol of Scarpa’s modern art; the colored glass mosaic floor a gesture of his abiding affection for  the city. Reflections and transparencies create a sense of incredible volume to this long, narrow space just over 20 meters long and 5 meters wide.


With the desire to open an exhibition venue in Venice, Adriano Olivetti was pioneering the idea of partnering art with industry, and therefore with sustainability. An art patron who called on Scarpa to embark on an artistic adventure managed to create what is today considered an important work of modern art. The idea of being an entrepreneur and investing in works of architecture able to leave a distinctive mark over time, was one of the elements that distinguished Adriano Olivetti.

The Negozio Olivetti is on the “Quadri” side of the Piazza San Marco, toward the Correr.

Open Tue – Sun, 10-19 (Apr – Oct), 10-17 (Nov – Mar)
€5 entrance fee (full price)

Audio tours are available in Italian only at the time of this writing (in Italian)

The property is owned by Assicurazioni Generali and has been loaned to the FAI (Fondo Ambiente Italiano, Italian Environmental Fund), who manages it through volunteer participation.



We love you Lino…

LINO TAGLIAPIETRA — From Murano to Studio Glass: works 1954 – 2011

This is Murano Glass (or at least a marvelous rendition of how it has evolved.)

So many travelers come to Venice having heard of Murano’s fame for hot glass, but knowing little else about it. Unfortunately, the best way to acquire some context of this complicated subject is not necessarily from someone trying to sell it to you. Murano seems to be waking up to this idea, thankfully, with inexpensive tours they offer, the current exhibit at the Correr, and now this extraordinary retrospective of master artist Lino Tagliapietra (tah-ya-pee-eh-tra– his first ever in Italy, believe it or not.

Tagliapietra is one of the most famous of the contemporary Murano artists, and in the tradition of Seguso, conceptualizes, designs, and then creates his own works. Tagliapietra has also been an ambassador for Murano glass, one of the few traveling extensively around the world to share his work, his approach, and his Murano life and tradition. “Lino thinks in glass,” is the quote from Rosa Barovier, co-curator of the exhibition and grand dame of the oldest glass-producing family on the island.

The exhibit opens with a brief film, after which you’ll wander through decades of the captivating results of Lino’s artistic thought process: a rich and diverse collection ranging from exquisite examples of scintillating color, to more involved sculptures incorporating techniques that add just enough dimension to exalt without encumbering.

If you have any interest whatsoever in Murano Glass, choosing either this exhibit, the one at the Correr, or if you can manage it, combining the two (the Correr first) would be extraordinarily satisfying activity — and guaranteed to improve your glass awareness in the process.

From Murano to Studio Glass. Works 1954 – 2011

though May 22, 2011
Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti (vaporetto Accademia, San Samuele)
On the Grand Canal at the base of the Accademia Bridge
+39 041 5237819
Tues – Sun, 10 am – 7 pm (ticket office closes at 6 pm) 
Tickets €7, €5 reduced. Call for group prices


Curated by Rosa Barovier Mentasti and Sandro Pezzoli, hosted by the Istituto Veneto di Scienze Lettere ed Arti and Civita Tre Venezie, sponsored by the Regione del Veneto, under the aegis of the Provincia di Venezia and the Comune di Venezia, in association with Venezia Iniziative Culturali. The official exhibition partner is the Scaletta di Vetro gallery.

A Millennium of Glass Mastery at the Correr

“The Adventure of Glass,” a brilliant exhibition of Venetian glass and the largest of its type since 1982, is at the Museo Correr through April 25th.

Most everyone who comes to Venice knows that Murano is famous for art glass production, though not many know why, or even what distinguishes it from any other sort of glass. Too few visitors portion out their limited time to become even mildly informed of the fascinating +1000-year history of Venetian glass — short of taking a “free” taxi ride offered by every lodging and guide in the city to a single commissioning furnace. What a pity.

Fear not, curious visitor: fi you’re traveling to Venice through April 25th, you’ll want to take in “The Adventure of Glass.” It’s a captivating and inspired exhibition at the Museo Correr, a reworked continuation of the one just ended at the Castello del Buonconsiglio in Trento.

The exhibition coincides with the imminent celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Museo del Vetro on Murano (a too often overlooked introduction to Murano glass), founded in 1861 by Abbot Zanetti, whose permanent collection houses many of the works on view at the Correr.

One of the most fascinating and surprising portions of the exhibit is the ancient glass recovered from lagoon and canal beds – on display for the first time, and attesting to just how long glass has been an integral part of the Venetian identity. They comprise some of the over three hundred objects you’ll peruse that include archeological glass (Roman and early Venetian), works from the Golden Age of the 15th-16th centuries to the inventive 17th and 18th centuries applying its elaborate, imaginative ingenuity to both form and material composition. After the subsequent decline, the modern renaissance of the 19th-20th centuries demonstrate how designers and glass masters began to collaborate to combine contemporary perspectives with the art form’s rich past to not only revive, but re-invent it with ingenious new techniques.

Note too, that during Carnevale (from the first week in February), over one hundred more items from the Maschietto collection will be added: presented in Venice for the first time, and combined with a selection of 18th century drawings from the Correr collections appropriate to Carnevale.

The Adventure of Glass: A Millennium of Venetian Art
Museo Correr, Piazza San Marco
Through April 25th, 2011
10am – 6pm, last entrance pm
Tickets €8 / €5 reduced

Click the image below to view the slideshow:

Photographs © Nan McElroy

Murano Glass: History without the Hard Sell

Experience the fascinating story behind the art glass of Murano in a multifaceted tour for €16,50

Too, too many travelers cruise into town, having heard something about Murano Glass, perhaps reading a blurb in their guidebook, wondering whether it would merit a few precious hours of their limited time to delve further. Up to now their choices have been either a “free” taxi offered along the Riva or at their lodging (never recommended), hiring an expensive private guide, or visiting on their own and hoping for the best. If you don’t know filigrano from sommerso, Seguso from Tagliapietra, or murrine from conterie from perle…where do you start?

Never fear, you now how have a quality, reasonably-priced alternative for discovering the fascinating, multi-dimensional beauty of Murano art glass. The Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia has teamed up with the Abate Zanetti Scuola del Vetro to offer GLASS in ACTION, an in-depth, multifaceted look at the Murano glass from its origins to the present day.

This creative tour recounts the story of glass “in reverse.” You’ll begin at the Museo del Vetro, viewing glass artifacts from ancient Rome, an extensive representation of the glass making process, the finished works of Renaissance Murano, and the expanded creativity modern masters, in all of their skillful and artistic complexity. You’ll then “return” to experience glass as artistic medium, “molten mass, unformed and uncolored,” at the Scuola del Vetro, for a glass working demonstration with a master vetraio, and the viewing of a short documentary film.

The image of Murano and its glass have suffered in recent decades with scandals of non-stop corruption, imitation glass, price-gouging, and more. It’s a pleasure to see the Musei offering the traveler the possibility to learn more about an art form that is as compelling for its history as it is for the beauty and variety displayed in the artisans’ works.

Perhaps it will become as popular as the Doge’s Palace Secret Itineraries, who knows?


Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2:30 (In English, check site times for Italian and other languages)

The €16.50 fee INCLUDES
. admission to the Museo del Vetro (Glass Museum)
. 40-minute museum tour with a specialized guide
. glassworking demonstration
. screening of documentary film at the Scuola del Vetro furnace “Abate Zanetti”

No need to reserve in advance, however: you must book the second half of the visit (the furnace) at the ticket office immediately on arrival for the Museum tour.

Questions and info:
. call center 84 80 82 000
. from abroad +39 041 4273 0892

images courtesy Musei Civici and the Scuola di Vetro