I was exploring Cannaregio (one of the six quarters of Venice, ed.) with my sister when we eventually turned up in Campo dei Mori and stopped to take a few pictures of the lovely spot just before the four statues. Suddenly, I couldn’t see her anymore. While I was looking for her, I finally found her in a dark a room preceded by an intriguing entrance. The doorstep was towered by a sign asking to “rispettare il silenzio”, respect the silence.
Once inside, I found myself in a sort of never-never land, surrounded by art and craftsmanship. We had just entered the Bottega del Tintoretto, a cooperative printmaking lab founded in 1986 by a group of artists, which allows quiet visitors to have a look. Snooping around I had the chance to admire watercolours, puppets and astounding paintings in a snug atmosphere. At a certain point, we both noticed a bearded man and we promptly said “Buongiorno!” to him, feeling a bit ashamed for not having greeted him before, both too distracted by the place.
The man we met is one of the founders of the place and his name is Roberto Mazzetto. We took the chance and asked him a few questions about the place and he was so kind and willing to explain to us the purpose of the place and its story.
Firstly, why the name? Tintoretto, whose original name was Jacopo Robusti, was a 16th-century painter and is considered one of the most famous Venetian artists of all time. The lab carries his name because the place was indeed his own studio back in the days, situated just below his house.
However, as Mr Mazzetto told us, little remains of the original room, nothing but the perimetrical walls. Nonetheless, Bottega del Tintoretto devoted itself to keeping old traditions alive by dealing with lithography, etching, relief, and silkscreen printing and using tools recovered in old Venetian print houses.
In addition to their personal work, the artists of the Bottega Tintoretto offer both intensive and extensive courses in bookbinding, printmaking, watercolour, fresco, sculpture and so on, as you can see on their website.
I do recommend a brief visit to this lab, the atmosphere is inspiring even for those not skilled in figurative arts(I, for one) and you can actually admire one of the few places where craftsmanship is still alive. Not to mention the helpfulness of the locals and the chance to learn how to make a book with your hands through their courses!
For further information, you can visit their website(in Italian), or head directly to:
Bottega del Tintoretto Cannaregio,
Fondamenta dei Mori 3400 Venezia