The two blacksmiths

The two blacksmiths

As a professional photographer in Venice I often work on assignment, but if I look into my hard disks on through my negatives I realize that I took some of the most important and interesting pictures in my career simply by wondering around and discovering Venice from a different point of view.

That was such the case while I was on my way in a sunny day in the far end of Cannaregio, one of the biggest districts where I hold Photo Tours in Venice. 

As you can see from the map, the Sestiere of Cannaregio extends from the bridge before the hospital of Venice, in Campo San Giovanni e Paolo, as far as the train station. Therefore it covers some areas invaded by tourists, but it can also be a very quiet and popular district, where still venetians live. While I was walking along a lonely “Fondamenta” (a street along a canal, in Venice), my attention was drawn to a sign hanging on a door: “Artisan Quality”. I couldn’t wait and I went inside exploring this slice of Venetian life I had never noticed before and I found the workshop of two blacksmiths. I entered in two large rooms, both severe, one dark, and the second with flashes of light coming from the high skylights.

The two blacksmiths, Paolo who is now 80 years old, and Francesco, 77 years old, are specialized in the restoration of the architectural works of the famous Venetian architect Carlo Scarpa. Years ago, for a book about the Province of Treviso, published by Biblos, I photographed the famous tomb Brion in San Vito di Altivole, made by Carlo Scarpa. It is a monumental complex with an adjoining church where, the architect himself was buried. In the blacksmiths workshop in Venice, that sometimes resembles the antechamber of Dante’s hell, but which instead it is a quiet place where time seems that has stopped, you can find pieces of that architectural work, famous throughout the world , ready to be restored or reproduced again.

More works by Carlo Scarpa in Venice are for example in the Querini Stampalia, or in the Negozio Olivetti in San Marco’s square. All the works are prepared and executed by hand, one by one, starting from original drawings. The decades-long collaboration between the great architect and this laboratory located at the borders of Venice, means that the two old blacksmiths are the most titular custodians of the genius and work of Carlo Scarpa.

At the base of the works is the wording of “Prova d’Autore”, with the signature of Carlo Scarpa. Sometimes I include a visit into this workshop in a Photo Tour in Venice, it’s always a pleasure to meet them.

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