Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Calligraphy Treasures from Venezia

My family was fortunate to travel to Venice last summer.  All the things artists say about Italy are true! Art appreciation is a way of life in Venice.  From door knockers to the cappuccino, it is all presented with a deliberate, artistic flair.  Here are some of my treasures:

I had read about a few shops that I hoped to find while in Venice.   I purchased the paper printed with scenes of Venice at Il Papiro.  I also bought some nibs there.  Rivoaltus (sorry, no link) was the easiest for me to find, because it was located on the Rialto bridge. The storeowner was so kind and helpful.  She gifted me a few extra treats, one of which was this little, silver, winged lion paperweight.  The winged lion represents Saint Mark and is the symbol of Venice.  I purchased the two journals with leather bindings from her.  

The next shop was Legatoria Piazzesi. It came highly recommended.  The storeowner was a bit intimidating at first, but when she learned I was a calligrapher, she really went out of her way to welcome me--and my daughter--warmly.  We talked about the lettering arts and also Fabriano paper.  She informed me genuine Fabriano paper has not been produced for many years.  I believe the original mill is now a museum.  They had many, beautiful journals, but my daughter and I opted for the Saint Mark's Basilica and campanile prints. When my daughter said she couldn't even afford a keychain at Gucci, the storeowner assured her that she was purchasing "The Gucci of Bookbindings."  You can see the three journals we purchased, including one that is opened, from her better in this photo:

One day we went to the island of Murano.  My husband bought me this beautiful, handmade pen holder from the Bortoletti foundry for my birthday.  One of my goals for this year is to deliberately practice the fundamental alphabets of calligraphy.  I plan to record an exemplar of each one in my Legatoria Piazzesi journal.  My first page is Copperplate.  I quickly realized how varied my own Copperplate had become, and I had to concentrate to create the standard forms.

I would love to return to Venice.  I want to quickly mention the exceptional company we used to book our trip.  Untours is a special company.  I greatly admire Hal Taussig, the founder of Untours.  We had no interest in taking a tour, but never having traveled abroad before, we didn't feel confident in making all the arrangements ourselves.  The goal of Untours is to have you experience a place as a local, not a tourist.  The Untours approach to travel was perfect for us, and I would definitely use their services again!


  1. Jane, I'm so glad to see you decided to start a blog! It looks wonderful!

    Thanks for sharing about your trip to Venice!

  2. What a lovely passage! I love how having a particular, specialized interest like yours can open a city in a new and unique way. Lovely finds and great tips!
    -Andrea Szyper

  3. Thanks for visiting Katy and Andrea! I appreciate your comments!

  4. hi jane!! oh, where to begin?! first, i LOVED hearing about your trip to venice! it's definitely on my list of things to do (i need to get over a pesky fear of flying first, though). my husband went as a young boy and still remembers how beautiful it is. and...your journals are exquisite! what treasures they are, and to write your beautiful letterforms with such a lovely pen...well, it just doesn't get much better than that, does it?! thanks for sharing your memories with us! :)

  5. Thank you Lori! I felt as though I had entered a fairytale as the water taxi took us to our apartment in Venice. :-)

  6. Your trip sounds beautiful! I love hearing about the pieces you found in Venice. I wonder if you saw any of the Venetian glass nib pens?

    1. Thank you for your visit to my blog and comment. Yes! I did see the glass nib pens, but I didn't purchase one. I like to get a good contrast between thick and thin, and I don't see how that is possible with a glass nib....although they are certainly beautiful looking pens! :)


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