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The Soul of the Italian Shoe

In Venice, Italy, a city built for endless walking, a determined young woman named Daniela Ghezzo has mastered the rare art of simultaneously beautifying and comforting the human foot.

Women Who Embroider the Air

On a small island near Venice, the fine art of hand-sewn lace somehow remains alive. Our correspondent visits with the master craftswomen of Burano to learn their history, their secrets, and the prospects for their future.

The World’s Greatest Goldbeater

Marino Menegazzo hammers gold leaf by hand into sheets 200 times thinner than a human hair. He works in the same studio where Titian, one of Italy’s great Renaissance artists, once lived and painted. Now Menegazzo’s craft, where the hand…

The Hidden Powers of The Forcola

How can a single oar give orders to a 36-foot boat that weighs 350 kilos (772 pounds) and why does the gondola obey? The answer is the forcola (FOUR-koh-la), the gondola’s oarlock, which is characterized by a unique, serpentine shape…

Building a Gondola

Fall 2020

Venice, Gondolas, and Black Magic

After suffering a year of twin terrors—historic floods and the Covid pandemic—the makers of Venice’s legendary gondolas are struggling to survive. To understand the unique design, history, and mystery behind this much-loved boat, our correspondent spent a year with Roberto Dei Rossi, one of the city’s last master gondola makers.

By ERLA ZWINGLE

The Violins of Cremona

Since the 16th century, Cremona’s luthiers—including Stradivari himself—have been using a particularly resonant wood from Paneveggio, known as Italy’s “violin forest,” to handcraft the world’s finest violins. Then a 2018 storm decimated the forest. A band of experts in Cremona…

The Healing Power of “Bello”

On the Northeastern coast of Italy, an unusual drug treatment center uses craftsmanship — and the strength of community — to rehabilitate some of Europe’s most intractable drug addicts.

The Secrets of an Italian Gelato Master

Gelato, it turns out, is a very different creature from ice cream. And there are reasons that the best gelato tastes so creamy yet somehow still light—and indescribably perfect. Is it the recipe? The method? Or something else? In honor…

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