Just close to the Madonna dell’Orto church, at Fondamenta Contarini 3535, you’ll find a small doorway discreetly marked ‘Fonderia Artistica Valese’.
Behind this door, down a long alleyway leading to the edge of the lagoon, stands Venice’s last remaining metal foundry – a remarkable historic workshop which most people aren’t aware can be visited by prior appointment.
Dating from over a hundred years ago, the foundry is housed in a dark, atmospheric building where, in the smoky gloom of the old workshop, a team of highly-skilled artisans still use traditional methods to produce metal items of the finest quality using hand-crafted moulds, some of which date back to the 18th century. The foundry is no longer commissioned to produce the iconic Venice International Film Festival trophies for which it was once renowned (the festival organisers have tightened their budgets, and today’s awards are made elsewhere, from gilded tin), but Valese continues to produce an astonishingly wide range of other beautiful objects – ranging from everyday items like candlesticks to complex designs including elaborate chandeliers, reproductions of Venice’s famous monuments, and the gilded seahorses that adorn many of the city’s gondolas. Available to purchase directly from the workshop, the foundry’s range can also be found at the Valese shop on Calle Fiubera near St Mark’s Square.
DON’T MISS ‘Arctico: Ultima Frontiera’ at Casa Tre Oci until 2 April 2017.
On view for just a few more weeks at the Casa Tre Oci gallery on Giudecca, this fascinating exhibition explores the subject of the Arctic: the final frontier of human civilisation, and one of the last natural environments still left unexploited by mankind. Featuring 120 dramatic images by celebrated photographers Ragnar Axelsson, Paolo Solari Bozzi and Carsten Egevang, the exhibition is an in-depth inquiry – examined from three different points of view – into a vast area of the planet that includes Greenland, Siberia, Alaska and Iceland. As well as providing rare insights into the daily life of the Inuit people, the show also raises important and thought-provoking issues such as environmental sustainability, global warming and the imminent danger of climate change; topics which are of course particularly pertinent to Venice as well.