by Anna Turcato
DO YOU FEEL LIKE VACATIONING IN VENICE?
I have been living in Venice for 5 years, though I was not born here. I continue to discover this city every day, looking at it with a visitor’s enchanted eyes. The view behind a hidden street, a place where you can eat fish on a skewer or cod crostini standing up, a workshop run by a young artisan who weaves tradition and modernity into unique creations.
I work in the fashion industry. I am an image consultant and often accompany people in their shopping trips, providing advice and recommendations. When that happens in Venice, I am elated. Venice is a city full of fashion treasures and only a few know it. This article is intended to let you in on some secret places, where fashion comes to fruition with creativity and originality, and a purchase is a unique and enjoyable experience.
If you follow my directions, you can reach Piazza San Marco, in the heart of the city, from the train station by walking along an alternative and unusual 5-stage city tour. Venice is the city of dreams, magic, and water that reaches you with its gentle sound wherever you are. It is the city in which everything is suspended, which takes you away from your stressful routines, from hours in gridlock, stuck within the confines of your automobile. Venice is a city to explore on foot. And it is on foot that I take you off the beaten path.
FIRST STOP: PAPER OWL
Paper Owl, Sestier Santa Croce, 2155, 30135 Venice (to make it easy, ask for the Church of Santa Maria Mater Domini).
Stefania Giannici, a native of Verona, but Venetian by adoption, has decided to open her shop/laboratory a few years ago, in honor of her love for paper. Such passion led her, since childhood, to fully embracing the Oriental technique of origami, which allows folding papers in unique ways that create the most disparate forms (geometric shapes, flowers animals, etc.) You will recognize Stefania’s shop/laboratory by its large colored, bright and well-groomed windows.
At the door’s threshold, you can glance at the printing press, Stefania’s indispensable tool. She paints and manufactures the paper for her creations. Earrings, necklaces, photo albums, children’s games, kites, furniture accessories, lions of Venice and even hot air balloons. Stefania crafts her creations by skillfully folding and bending papers she finds in the many corners of the world to which she travels.
Her favorite papers? Those uniquely refined produced in Japan, the bright colored Nepalese variety, and the “humble” type made from cotton, linen and recycled and reclaimed materials. Stefania’s art is made up by unique, one-of-a-kind creations — no two of her pieces are alike.
Thanks to her ability to aptly leverage the versatility of each material she uses, and which can be worked with different techniques that let imagination and creativity run wild, involving all senses, from tact to smell, Stefania has been the recipient of many awards. Her pieces are unique, the reflection of the personality and taste of those who commission them and through which she weaves exquisite poetry.
I especially love Paper Owl’s paper jewelry — sturdy, yet light and graceful, just like the material with which they are made. Chandelier or button earrings, colorful necklaces resting on one’s cleavage or around the neck, giving an allure of sophistication and elegance to women who wear them. Did I awake your desire to see Paper Owl’s paper creations?
SECOND STOP: LA CASA DI LOTO
La Casa di Loto, Sestiere Dorsoduro, 3856, 30123 Venice
Located in Venice’s students’ district, only a short distance away from the headquarters of the Ca’ Foscari University and Campo Santa Margherita, the city’s most beaten path, this store will captivate you.
Entering the “Casa di Loto” is an evocative experience, just like the very name of this special place. It is a place that welcomes you with its warm and mildly retro atmosphere that envelopes you as you set foot in it, and whose choice of furniture and accessories brings to mind a countryside house – big wooden tables, armoires, sideboards, decorated mirrors and sophisticated lamp shades. This decor supports and frames a rich, chic and original clothing collection.
Here you can find: wool sweaters, knitwear of all kinds, shawls, capes, and fur collars. In a corner, you can glance at elegant evening gowns embellished by beads and sparkly sequins. All garments are Made in Italy. In this casual and homey atmosphere, you can look around and try on affordable and colorful clothes. Indeed, clothes and accessories are available in an impressive palette of colors, countless hues of varying shades and intensity.
If you are looking for that particular aquamarine green, coral red or antique pink you saw in a magazine but were not able to find in any store where black and white are the dominant colors of choice, you can be assured that your search comes to an end here. Here, you can find anything you want, no matter your age or body type. This store owes its success to the tireless commitment its owners, who are especially attuned to fashion trends and their clients’ needs.
And after an exhausting afternoon trying on clothes and accessories, I suggest a refreshment break in the nearby Tonolo pastry shop, one of the city’s best known and most traditional: you won’t regret it.
THIRD STOP: ALTROVE
Altrove, Calle Moro, 2659/A, 30125 San Polo, Venice, VE
This laboratory is close to the most famous Church of the Frari, which houses Canova’s tomb. It is located in the recess of a narrow street and visitors must make sure they don’t miss this hidden treasure.
Minimalism is the key word to describe the stylistic choice of Alessandra and Miriam, the creators of the Altrove brand and its flagship store, which also serves as the laboratory where both women work at imagination’s indefatigable pace. Here, fashion and art merge and overlap. This laboratory is a true creative space, where everything is white, black and gray, to keep noise at bay and make room for your thoughts. Design reigns supreme here; Alessandra and Miriam are inspired by geometric lines. Our artists begin with a shape, then move on to working on paper patterns. Finally, they select the ideal fabric for their particular creation. The difference is in the details which tell the true story of each and every piece of clothing created here. A pocket, the cutting of a sleeve, the lining of a jacket, the texture of a fabric, a striped or polka dot insert – do not just glance at garments, go ahead and try them on. Each piece will surprise you, transforming into and taking on a different form, in a manner that uniquely complements your body, personality and needs.
Ask Alessandra and Miriam to explain to you how a skirt can become trousers, a shirt can be worn on either side, a coat can be worn at full length for a refined look or short for a more practical flair. Because, as they say, at Altrove “nothing is as it seems”, and everything can become what you want it to be. Items for women and men that lend themselves to a total look, but can be worn and married to your everyday style for an original and unconventional effect.
FOURTH STOP: VLADI’
Vladi, Rio Terà della Madalena, 2340, 30121 Venice; San Polo, 30125 Venice
This hand-made shoe store is right next to the Rialto Bridge (and in front of Mascari, the city’s oldest spice shop). It sells shoes that carrying with them a vision of the world, made of continuous inspiration and tireless search for taste and quality. Every detail of these shoes is carefully designed and selected.
Shoes help us stand up, keep our feet to the ground and, at the same time, move with ease to the discovery of the world. Those who live in this city know that well, since here moving on foot is not just a pleasure, but a necessity.
You can only get to know Venice by walking on foot – that is why that one element you cannot do without for your Venetian holiday is a pair of comfortable and practical shoes. Shoes designed for maximum foot comfort, for feet that never have to suffer pain. Just like Vladì shoes, crafted with skills and knowledge, in the best local artisan tradition.
Each item must be in harmony with all others: uppers and opening for a particular heel to ensure the perfect grip on the foot. Comfort and quality, but also design: these are the keywords of Vladì production, features that come together in shoes so unique for their fairy-tale appearance and bright and original colors.
Pixie shoes, funny, original and never banal, perfect shoes to appeal to a romantic, feminine spirit, enlivened by a flicker of eccentricity; shoes that reveal your personality and are specially made to accompany you in your adventures. Or, more simply, shoes that will help you easily conquer the steps of the Rialto Bridge, the city’s most famous bridge, and move on to your next stop.
QFIFTH STOP: VENETIAN DREAMS BY MARISA CONVENTO
Venetian Dreams, Mandola Calle, 30124 Venice.
Do not miss this latest fashion gem on your way to San Marco from Rialto Bridge. We are talking about an ancient history jewel: Venetian glass beads. Glass items, whose production was first documented in Egypt, were not only used for decorative purposes, but also as bargaining chips.
In its small size, the Venetian glass bead embodies humanity’s long journey, explorations, trading and relations among faraway people. Glass beads tell us about Venice and its history. Starting from their colors, created with raw materials merchants brought from exotic lands with which they traded. The Venetian glass bead carries with it the lagoon’s essence and timeless beauty; its most magical reflections are recounted by iridescent hues of metallic, opalescent sheen, and of a unique intensity.
We have arrived at Marisa Convento’s workshop – she is a modern-day bead threader. Just like bead threaders of a by-gone era, Marisa, with passion and patience, threads for hours tiny beads, which were once discarded, and, over centuries, served as important decorative elements for peoples around the world (from Native Americans to the inhabitants of Africa’s heart). Marisa’s creations are unique, of unmistakable taste and undeniable charm.
Colorful and richly decorated necklaces, adorned with precious corals or delicate flowers. Priceless and rare talismans, each different from the other, just like the pearls of which they are made, with changing reflections and fine designs. It is impossible not to be won over by Marisa, her contagious energy, her passion, her vibrant smile. It is impossible not to be enchanted by Marisa’s stories about the city’s history and tradition and about her own work.
Venetian Dreams is not just a laboratory, it is a real living room and a meeting point of ideas and relationships. Marisa seeks to forge personal and empathic connections with her clients. Connections that are as personal as her own creations, accessories that embody the memories and suggestion of magic Venice.
The stretch from Rialto to San Marco is short, but you can also make it a bit longer by passing by La Fenice Theater. Always keep your eyes open, because at every corner you can find genuine Made-in-Italy treasures and picturesque corners such as the stores we have just visited, whose one-of-a-kind creations exquisitely blend Venice’s beauty and fashion trends.
So, when can we meet in the beautiful lagoon city?
Find your apartment in Venice!
SEE THE APARTMENTS