Text & Photos: Alison Stein Wellner
It’s easy to feel drab in Venice, with all that iconic golden light bathing the colors of sunset all day, from the faded ruddy watercolor buildings, to the chalky green canal water, to the blue and white striped shirt gondoliers.
Plus, if you get the urge to spruce up a bit, the shopping isn’t entirely inspiring — the shops seem to be either ubiquitous internationally available boutiques or in the business of peddling tourist tchochkes.
A solution: Attombri.
Okay, so this jewelry shop, run by two brothers, has received international recognition — see Dolce & Gabbana, Vogue, etc. — but their materials are entirely Venetian. The brothers purchased heaps of antique Murano glass beads, my understanding is that they were procured from a glass company going out of business. They do all their work by hand, and the pieces tend to play the shine of the glass off of intricately twisted metal. Their pieces some how retain the feeling of the antique that pervades Venice, but with the aid of the occasional asymmetrical line and a fine editing eye, still look contemporary.
I arrived at their studio/gallery in Campo San Maurizio, which is in the San Marco area, in the early afternoon. (That’s the door of their shop above, reflecting the square.) But the door was locked, and a handwritten note was affixed: out to lunch for a few hours. Only a small set back; I’d already been in Venice for a few days at this point, I’d become accustomed to two things: getting lost and changing my plans.
I regrouped, crossed the nearby Accademia bridge and wiled a way the time at Santa Maria Glorisa dei Frari, taking in the tomb of Titan, his masterpiece painting Assumption. There was nothing high-minded about it though, I kept noting the long black frilly necklace-like chains which held red-glassed lamps, the colors of the stained glass, gold and burgundy and brick, and thinking of my jewelry shopping yet to come.
So I was entirely primed when I arrived back at Attombri and found it open for business. The front of the shop is for display, the back is a work space and the way, way back is where plastic sacks of Murano glass beads, sorted by color are stored. (Unlike a few sniffy shopkeepers, the brothers Attombri are friendly — there was no trouble with me taking a little look around.
And since jewelry is being made right there, there’s also no problem if a piece needs a little adjustment in length to make it sit on your neck just so. The necklace I choose — a sort of flower shape, with pale blue glass beads on one side and silver beads on the reverse — was on the lower end of Attombri’s price range, 175 Euro. But I felt at one with the beauty of Venice when I wore it out of the shop and for the rest of my stay, and every time I’ve worn it since.
(Attombri has two locations in Venice. Campo San Maurizio in the San Marco area and store near Rialto.)