I have met, chatted with, and "done business" with five notable women here, four in one day - yesterday. I'm guessing they are all in their 30s and 40s and all in business for themselves. A treat to experience in still male business-dominated Italy.
On Murano, after looking at I don't know how many glass studios I met Roberta (I'm sorry I don't know her last name) at her new shop, Manin 56. Of everything I looked at in all those studios, I chose one of her original designs as my big splurge purchase of this trip - six gorgeous glasses. Many of you will have the pleasure of drinking from them shortly. She was very, very proud to tell me about this new venture of hers.
First up yesterday, Serena Viavello who has just purchased a very beautiful shop specializing in silk clothing, shoes, and handbags by several designers. She, too, proudly talked about her new business. (Yes, I bought a pair of shoes, so sue me.)
Mariangela Penzo has no confectioners in her family history but the film "Chocolat" awakened a passion in her that she has pursued since. She went to school in France and two-and-a-half years ago opened VizioVirtu and it is already generally acknowledged as Venice's finest chocolate shop. She and her shop have received a great deal of media coverage, a subject that always interests me. And Juliette Binoche, the star of "Chocolat," attended the opening. Although she doesn't speak much English, she was very gracious and we, obviously, had much common ground. It was the second time I'd been to her shop, her chocolates are divine and I shall doubtless visit again before I leave.
A funky little shop called Novecento filled with antiques, curiosities, one-of-a-kind items, caught my attention on a long walk home. The owner is Nicoletta (again, no last name, sorry) and she was busy re-arranging displays and fretting about how disorganized she is. She is a tall beauty and I was happy to chat with her - she had MANY questions about Hawai'i - and to make a few small purchases. She could not find her scotch tape dispenser which caused her great anxiety. I tried to reassure her that it was fine, nothing really needed to be wrapped and she seemed so grateful she gave me a little discount on my purchases and also gave me as a gift a beautiful, handmade Venetian fabric bag with silk lining which is specifically used to carry bread. I left feeling I had made an acquaintance I might someday be able to renew.
And finally, Claudia Canestrelli who owns and operates a perfectly charming antique shop that I have passed several times a day since I've been here. She is the third generation owner of the shop (her grandfather and mother before her) and we talked about how difficult it is to keep small family businesses alive and well in this day and age. She has two sisters who are not interested in antiques and a 12-year-old daughter who she hopes will be. She spoke about how Venice has changed and is changing and the terms she used are ones that we use all the time to describe what is happening in our own Islands.
Alora. Women do rule, si?