The weekend, our group took a four hour train ride to the beautiful city of love- Venice. We we given four days and three nights to explore, draw, and get to know the city. We were thrown right into experiencing the landscape- just off the the train station we hopped on a boat to get to the Island our hostel was located on. This was all very new- getting adjusted to taking a boat “bus” and waiting for it on a boat “bus station” on the water was all very exciting. I’m happy to say that we took the correct boat and avoided getting lost- this time.
That first day, Thursday February 12 was spent exploring- we walked through San Marco, through an underwater church, around the main piazza, and into a very unique and charming bookshop that looked like it has been around for ages. I’ve found that most of my pictures from that day were of people dressed in their elaborate outfits and gowns for Carnevale. It was exciting to see all the different and extravagant outfits people had put together to wear through the piazza, coloring the plaza not just that day, but all weekend.
Friday was the day of workshops- we traveled (and by traveling , I mean literally running through the city as not to be late) to the wood shop of Saverio Pastor, one of only five forcole craftsmen in all of Venice. Forcole are the beautifully sculpted wooden attachments on Venetian Gondolas, used to hold the paddle and steer the boat. They are entirely handmade from cherry or walnut wood, and take Saverio only three days to carve! They are incredibly smooth and delicate looking objects; Saverio shared with us a quote that his master lived by – that “a Forcula is an object, not for use” but a sculptural and artistic creation.
After a break for some lunch (which almost always just means pizza) we headed over to Gianni Basso’s studio. Giani Basso is the only ink relief printer left in Venice, so it was truly a treat to see his work. He was very passionate about fonts, his collection of original books and about design in general. He creates business cards , copies of maps and drawings, and ink prints of quotes (which, as architects, many of us felt very tied to the one written “if you want to realize your dreams, don’t sleep” ).
From there the rest of the weekend was ours. The absolute first necessity for the girls was finding masks. After a very lengthy and fun episode of “Say yes to the mask,” all seven of us were equipped for Carnevale. The rest of our time was spend getting lost again and again on winding streets, taking the wrong boats, and exploring the beautiful area. If there’s one place to get lost, its Venice. This is how we stumbled upon fun shops with handcrafted art, a beautiful remodeled greenery, the quite and pleasant residential district, and some truly beautiful views.
After a visit to the serene Island of the Dead, lots of delicious pizza, and an elevator ride (quite the luxury after what we’re used to climbing) up the tower of San Marco, our trip was over. It was a great adventure and we now have an endless amount of pictures to sketch from ( I admit I reached over 1,000 pictures…probably 1/2 of which are the very typical shots of small bridges arched over the canal, with the picturesque gondola floating through). Although Venice will be dearly missed, its quite nice to stand on some solid ground again.