100 Place In Italy every woman should go
I am not a book critic, but I do love reading and above all I like when travel writers make sure to give up to date and thorough information on the places they suggest their readers should visit.
So when I read the part about Venice I was very impressed (some times travel guides can be so generic and misleading) because Susan Van Allen has given well described and useful information on many activities to do in Venice, which are usually overlooked by other travel books.
I am very happy to suggest the reading of this book and to prove so I am also going to give everyone a chance to win a copy of Susan Van Allen’s 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go.
Just read this interesting excerpt about the Mosaics School of Orsoni and then answer one question at the bottom of the post to enter the competition. I am just waiting now to go and have a nice visit in the Orsoni School!
From Susan Van Allen’s 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go
Mosaics at Orsoni
Connie Giocobbe, a fifty-three-year-old mother of two
grown-up kids, had been a hairdresser in Kansas City for years,
painted as a hobby, and had just begun mosaic work when she
thought, If I really want to learn this, I should get to a place that
has one of the longest traditions of mosaic-making: Venice.
And lo, up on her computer screen popped a mosaics workshop
at the Orsoni Studio.
Orsoni is hidden behind high walls in the Cannaregio dis-
trict, off a fondamenta that wasnt even on my Streetwise Venice map.
Since 1888, when the foundry was taken over by Angelo Orsoni,
the smalti (colored opaque glass) and gold-leaf mosaics that it
produces have been used to restore churches, such as the Basilica
di San Marco, and shipped off to provide materials for some
of the worlds most beautiful buildingsfrom Gaudis Sagrada
Familia church in Barcelona, to the Golden Room in Stockholm
where Nobel Prizes are awarded, to buddhas in Bangkok.
Even though whats made here is such a major deal, the place
has a low-key, family business vibe. Everybody from the workers
to the staff and students seems especially upbeat, Im guessing
because theyre surrounded by all this pretty sparkly stuff all day.
Like Orsoni students on their first day of class, I got in to see
the production facility, where men gathered around a blazing
furnace and moved with a riveting choreography, scooping out
glowing liquid glass to a rotating metal belt where it solidified in
seconds and then was slid away to cool, like iridescent pancakes.
Next door women cut the smalti into tesserae (small pieces used
in mosaic art), that formed what looked like piles of glittering
hard candy. Finally, theres the color library: a huge warehouse
of rickety wooden shelves stacked floor to ceiling with over two
thousand hues of smalti to choose from.
The library is one of the things that makes it a dream to take
class here, to have access to all that, Connie told me.
The Orsoni Workshop was opened in 2003 by Maestro
Lucio Orsoni, the great-grandson of the companys founder
and a world-famous mosaic artist. Classes here are kept small
(six students max), so theres lots of individual attention given
by instructor/artist Antonella Gallenda, whos been working by
Lucios side for thirty years. The school attracts a range of inter-
national students, from beginners to those with years of experi-
ence. Some simply sign up for three days to add a little cultural
zing to their Venetian vacation and make a small mosaic. Others
opt for the one- or two-week sessions to learn basics, micro-
mosaics, or portraiture.
When I stopped by the workshop, catching a two-week class
at its midpoint, it looked like they were all pros. Then the gal
from Chicago whose portrait of her adorable five-year-old son
I admired said shed never done it before. Instructor Antonella
strolled about offering encouragement and suggestionsstop-
ping by Connies project to help her out with the tricky prob-
lem of getting her portraits mouth just right. There was a fun,
focused, creative spirit in the air as the students hammered and
I came here as a beginner three years ago, and now Im back
for my third time, Connie said. Her technique has advanced so
much shes gotten commercial commissions for her creations.
A fab feature of the program is that in the same renovated
Orsoni villa as the workshop is Domus Orsoni, a bed and
breakfast designed by mosaic artisans, where students can stay
during their course. Its the only artiturismo Ive ever seen, and
when its not filled with workshop participants its available to
visitors looking for bargain digs in an under-touristed Venice
I love staying here and waking up to the foundry workers
singing, Connie said. Everyone around here has become like
family to me.
The classes have also given Connie the opportunity to make
friends with mosaic artists from all over the world. A lot of
nights after dinner, well go back into the workshop with a bottle
of wine and cheese, put in a Pavarotti CD, and get to work.
Sometimes were up until three in the morning. Its completely
Orsoni Studio and Domus Orsoni: For workshop informa-
tion, to make an appointment to tour the foundry and gallery, or
to book a stay at Domus Orsoni, go to www.orsoni.com.
About Susan Van Allen : Susan Van Allen’s love for Italy stems from her maternal grandparents, who emigrated from Southern Italy. She was born in Newark, New Jersey, and grew up on the Jersey shore amidst wonderful food and drama. When she first stepped off the train into Roma Termini in 1976, she got hooked on Italian travel.
Since then she’s explored the country up and down the boot–visiting relatives, immersing herself in the country’s masterpieces and culture, taking language and cooking classes, and going on boating, biking, and hiking adventures.
She’s written about Italian travel for over twenty-five media outlets, including National Public Radio, Town & Country, Student Traveler, Tastes of Italia, Chicago Daily Herald, several Travelers& Tales anthologies (including Best Travel Writing 2009), and CNN.com.
She has a following for her monthly Letters From Italy column on the Divine Caroline website. Van Allen also writes for television, and was on staff of the Emmy winning sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond. When she’s not in Italy, she is based in Los Angeles, where she lives with her husband and makes scrumptious lasagnas.
How to enter the competion and win a free Iphone app release copy of “Susan Van Allen’s 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go”
Travelers Tales has nicely offered a free Iphone app release copy of “Susan Van Allen’s 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go” for one lucky reader of MonicaCesarato’s blog. If youd like to win a copy, please leave a comment answering this question: What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Venice?
Leave your comment by 11:59 p.m.(Italian Time) on Tuesday 11th May 2010 to win a free copy of Iphone app release of Susan Van Allen’s 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go. I will pick a winner randomly and I will be announcing the winner via Twitter @monicacesarato.
Traveler’s tales have 3 other great travel books on Italy!
Travelers’ Tales Italy: True Stories of Life on the Road www.travelerstales.com/catalog/italy/
Travelers’ Tales Tuscany: True Stories www.travelerstales.com/catalog/tusc/
30 Days in Italy: True Stories of Escape to the Good Life www.travelerstales.com/catalog/30italy/