Just a few steps away from Hotel Ca' Bonfadini, you can plunge
in Venice art history
When one speaks of Venice, it is impossible not to think about the artistic prestige of the city. In addition to Murano Island’s iconic glass-making tradition, the city’s calli (narrow streets and alleys) have seen the incredible mosaic technique come to life, embellishing every building and monument.
It has been one of the city’s main artistic expressions for centuries, and there is nothing decorated with compositions of tesserae that does not shine with enchantment.
Consider St Mark’s Basilica, an icon of the city’s heritage, where mosaics decorate walls and floors recalling Christian symbolism. A visit here is an absolute must: glass, coloured with shimmering gold, surrounds all the interior spaces with beauty, captivating the eyes of every visitor.
This material found expression in the art of mosaics over the centuries, particularly between the 19th and 20th centuries, when workshops and artisans’ shops populated the city’s calli, producing objects and ornaments of all kinds.
Founded in 1888 in the Cannaregio district, right where Ca’ Bonfadini is located, the Fornace Orsoni has always been one of the most renowned live-fire furnaces in Venice and today the only one left on the island. The last remaining bastion of a tradition that has contributed to making La Serenissima one of the most fascinating and artistically active cities in the world, the furnace is still active today according to a working method that is more than 120 years old.
The history of the furnace begins a few steps away from our hotel, here in Venice, but it is immediately intertwined with the history of world art. The first stage of this journey dates back to the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1889: Angelo Orsoni, the founder of the furnace, presented the world with a panel in which hundreds of coloured glass pieces were set, a true work of art that was an astounding success.
The panel, exhibited today inside the furnace, inspired Antoni Gaudí a few years later to use Orsoni glass enamelling to decorate the spires of the Sagrada Familia.
In addition to Gaudí’s masterpiece, the furnace’s works of art colour to this days some of the grandest buildings around the globe, from Italy to France and on to the Middle East and South-East Asia.
Like a beating heart that distributes its art throughout the world, the furnace is today one of the Lagoon’s ‘hidden’ attractions: open to the public for visiting, its interior holds all the secrets of this ancient tradition. Walking through its magnificent rooms, such as the Colour Library, an archive that preserves more than 3,500 shades of enamel, or the Art Café, besides being fascinated by the thousands of colours that live inside it, it is possible to bump into the artisans, focused on working centuries-old tools in the creation of the next artistic masterpieces.
About a five-minute walk from the Hotel Ca’ Bonfadini, the Fornace Orsoni is an essential stop for those who want to experience the real Venice, the one made of colours, traditions, ancient craftsmen and timeless treasures.