A snapshot from the Giudecca
February 4, 2018
I remember the look of incredulity, bordering on horror, on the face of a Venetian when I explained I was holidaying on the Giudecca. “Why?”, she asked.
Here are a few good reasons:
The quayside (fondamenta) of the Giudecca Canal has an incomparable view across St Mark’s basin to the city of Venice. From there, it’s a short walk across the island to the lagoon, where sometimes the silence is only disturbed by the sound of splashing oars. 161 new apartments are intended for tourism or holiday homes, making it increasingly expensive for young Venetians to live here.
The island reflects the split personality of Venice; at one end is the luxury enclave of the Cipriani hotel, at the other is the Venice Hilton “Molino Stucky”, formerly a flour mill and pasta factory. In between, the hotel guests enjoy the same view as the teenage backpackers from the Venice Youth Hostel.
In the 19th and 20th centuries the island was home to industries and the working population that supported them; now there are galleries, workshops and the Junghans theatre academy. Giudecca is also the location of a women’s prison – a detail not marked on most tourist maps.
The population supports a range of independent shops: a butcher, a small fish market, greengrocers, two wine shops dispensing their wares from huge demijohns. The Pharmacy was doing a brisk trade on Friday morning, with half a dozen staff managing its (mostly rather elderly) queue.
Stefano Morasso, master of glass
Close to the Palanca vaporetto stop there’s a small window display of handmade glass, and a map with directions to the 15th century Convent of Cosma & Damiano, behind the church of Sant’ Eufemia. The glassblower was the first workshop in the cloister, and as we arrived, the owner was turning the sign in the door to “back at 3”. He cheerfully let us in, and proudly explained (in Italian) his craft.
Originally from Murano, where he worked as an apprentice before opening his own business in partnership with his father in 1980. he didn’t want to do the repetitive work of a Maestro, turning out the same works year after year, and eventually set up his studio on the Giudecca in 2013. “All I need is gas, a flame, glass and (tapping his forehead) “fantasia”. He’s happy that people visit, buy and, he hopes, recommend his work to their friends.
Around the cloister are workshops producing metalwork, paintings and engravings, handmade paper, papier mache masks, bookbinding and restoration. The tranquillity of the convent is guarded by a colony of cats; their fearsome leader is clearly a descendant of the Lion of St Mark….
Ostaria da Moro, where “The home made salame has arrived”
Turn right off the Palanca Vaporetto stop, walk past the Trattoria do Mori with its photos illustrating the menu (bad sign), a waiter outside touting for business, and a blackboard offering a kebab with a drink for 10 euros – all signs that the new owners are probably not Venetians.
At No. 658 on the fondamenta, next to Sotoportego e Calle Montorio, is the Ostaria da Moro.
There’s no sign outside, just three red cards in the window, announcing in Italian “The home made salame has arrived…. to accompany our selection of the best wines”. Open 7am until 11pm every day except Tuesday, it’s patronised by locals, mostly workmen in fur-trimmed parkas and overalls, standing at the bar drinking wine or spritz with ciccheti.