Way back in April when I wasn’t blogging, Christopher and I took the kids to Venice for the Easter holidays. Christopher was adamant that we not run ourselves ragged checking off every crowded, tourist-y box while we were there. As it was Coco and Zach’s first trip to the iconic Italian city we did of course play with the pigeons in Piazza San Marco, buy Murano glass in a shop next to the Peggy Guggenheim museum and stuff ourselves silly at Antiche Caramagne, the seafood restaurant everyone told us we must visit.But in the morning of the second day we got an email from a close friend’s daughter, Georgia. Being half-Italian herself, Georgia had spent a year and a half living in Venice and going to the Scuola Internatzionale di Grafica that her grandmother founded and still ran. As it’s often the beaten path, she suggested we visit it as a way to get a sense of what everyday life feels like for young artists in Venice.
We jumped at the offer, setting off by foot from our hotel on the Grand Canal and eventually arriving in the much less crowded streets of Cannaregio. After winding through increasingly narrow back alleys fearing we might be lost, we turned a corner and there the school was! We walked down a hidden passageway into a courtyard and then entered a building whose size was impossible to perceive from its exterior. Inside it was vast. Formerly a chandelier factory, the main print studio had an industrial feel softened by wood beams and a warm glow from the generous skylights. We all stood in awe as we noticed the imperfect tidiness of the space. Everything had its place, yet it felt earthy, creative and welcoming. Christopher and I – both having academic degrees in the fine arts – wished aloud that our schools had had such a spectacular setting. And that was even before we saw the private studio at the end with a picture window overlooking a canal. I’m not sure I’ll ever recover from the fantasy of spending my days painting, collaging, drawing in front of that view.