Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Interview with Laura Morelli & Book Spotlight: AUTHENTIC ARTS: VENICE TRAVEL GUIDE

Although I've visited Italy twice—2013 based in Rome for a month and last year in southern Italy for three months—I haven't been to Venice. This beautiful city in the Veneto region is definitely on my travel bucket list. While I'm working towards making that dream a reality, I am very proud to be a part of Laura Morelli's blog tour for her latest Authentic Arts Series on Venice.

Please join me in welcoming author Laura Morelli to Hello, My Name Is Alice!


INTERVIEW WITH LAURA MORELLI

1. There are many travel guides to Italy out there. What makes yours different?
There are many great Italy guidebooks to help you plan the practical aspects of your trip: where to eat, where to sleep, which sights are the most worthwhile, and how to locate museums and monuments. My Authentic Arts series leads you beyond the museums and souvenir shops for an immersive cultural experience that you won't find in any other guidebook. You’ll go inside the workshops of the most accomplished makers of Venetian fabrics, Murano glass and millefiori, carnival masks and masquerade costumes, gondolas, Burano lace, mirrors, marbleized paper, hand-carved frames, and other treasures. If you're reading on your ereader, tablet, or smartphone, you can click directly on the street addresses for an interactive map, and link to web sites and email addresses.

2. How did you do research for your book?
I am traditionally trained as an art historian, and studied the great artists of the past: Michelangelo, da Vinci, and many others. However, once I realized the importance of living artisanal traditions within Italian culture, I was riveted; I wanted to know everything! It was the beginning of a journey that would take me from the Alps to Palermo, and become my obsession for more than a decade. I traveled to Sardinia to watch an 88-year-old woman swiftly work a wooden handloom her grandmother had taught her to use when she was only five. I journeyed to Umbria to watch a ceramicist paint a rabbit on a terra-cotta pot, drawing inspiration from a 500-year-old ceramic fragment at his side. I went to the gastronomic capital of Parma to watch an inspector poke an aging ham hock with a horse-bone needle, and draw it under his nose to rate its quality compared to thousands of similar specimens he has tested over four decades. Over the course of my fieldwork, it was the stories and the people behind these great traditions that captivated me, that kept me moving forward, digging deeper into the roots of Italian culture. The contemporary Italian artisans I interviewed, one after another, told me how important it was to them to pass on the torch of tradition to the next generation.

3. You’ve also written a novel set in Renaissance Venice. How did that come about?
The story of The Gondola Maker developed while I was working on another book called Made in Italy. The living artisans I interviewed, whether makers of gondolas, carnival masks, or Murano glass, told me how important it was to them to pass on their trade. I began to wonder what would happen if the successor were not able...or willing. The characters of the gondola maker and his son—and their complicated relationship—began to take shape.

4. Can you give us a good shopping tip for Venice?
Sure. When buying handmade, traditional wares, price and quality do not always correlate in Venice. In other words, a high price does not necessarily mean high quality, and a low price does not necessarily mean that the item is less valuable. Value depends on what you buy and from whom, and this is especially true in a tourist-filled city. The high-traffic tourist streets command high prices for everything, no matter what the quality. Pay attention to your surroundings; if most of the shops on the street cater to international tourists, your risk of overpaying for a lower-quality item is high. Instead, head to the quieter, less frequented artisan quarters of town like Dorsoduro and San Polo, known for their authentic makers but not for major tourist attractions.

5. What is your next project?
Right now I’m enjoying working on my Authentic Arts series, leading travelers to overlooked treasures in particular cities and regions. I’m looking forward to returning to historical fiction later this year. So many stories behind the world’s works of art—whether true or imagined—remain to be told.

BOOK SPOTLIGHT



BOOK DESCRIPTION
Every traveler to Venice wants to go home with a special souvenir--a carnival mask, a piece of Murano glass, a handcrafted piece of lace. But selecting which mask or which goblet to buy can be an intimidating experience. How do you know if you're buying something authentic, something made in Venice, something made in a traditional way? How do you gauge how much you should pay, and how do you know if you're being ripped off? How do you determine if you have fallen prey to one of the city's many tourist traps?

Laura Morelli, an art historian and trusted guide in the world of cultural travel and authentic shopping, leads you to the best of the city's most traditional arts: Murano glass, carnival masks, gondolas, lace, paper, and more. This indispensable guide includes practical tips for locating the most authentic goods in one of the busiest tourist destinations in the world. Packed with useful information on pricing, quality, and value, and with a comprehensive resource guide, Laura Morelli's Authentic Arts: Venice is the perfect guide for anyone wanting to bring home the unique traditions of Venice.

Artisans of Venice is the companion to Laura Morelli's
Authentic Arts: Venice, A Travel Guide to Murano Glass, Carnival Masks, Gondolas, Lace, Paper, & More. Put both books together and you'll be the most knowledgeable traveler in Venice!



BOOK DESCRIPTION
Going to Venice? Don't buy anything in Venice until you read this book!

Buyer Beware: Venice is full of tourist traps and mass-produced souvenirs passed off as authentic. Do you know how to tell the treasures from the trash?

In Venice, it's not easy to tell the treasures from the trash. This is true now more than ever before, as increasing numbers of carnival masks, glass, and other souvenirs flood into Venice, imported from overseas and passed off as authentic. There is no substitute for an educated buyer. Laura Morelli helps you locate the city's most authentic artisans--those practicing centuries-old trades of mask making, glass blowing, wood turning, silk spinning, and other traditions. Wouldn't you rather support authentic Venetian master artisans than importers looking to turn a quick profit without any connection to Venice at all?

Venice boasts some of the most accomplished master artisans in the world. Here's how you can find them.

Laura Morelli leads you beyond the souvenir shops for an immersive cultural experience that you won't find in any other guidebook. Artisans of Venice brings you inside the workshops of the most accomplished makers of Venetian fabrics, Murano glass and millefiori, carnival masks and masquerade costumes, gondolas, Burano lace, mirrors, marbleized paper, hand-carved frames, and other treasures. This book leads you to the multi-generational studios of some 75 authentic master artisans. If you're reading on your Kindle device, tablet, or smartphone, you can click directly on their street addresses for an interactive map, and link to their web sites and email addresses directly from the guide. A cross-referenced resource guide also offers listings by neighborhood.

Laura Morelli, an art historian and trusted guide in the world of cultural travel and authentic shopping, leads you to the best of Venice's most traditional arts. Laura Morelli's Authentic Arts series is the only travel guide series on the market that takes you beyond the museums and tourist traps to make you an educated buyer--maybe even a connoisseur--of Florentine leather, ceramics of the Amalfi Coast, Parisian hats, Venetian glass, the handmade quilts of Provence, and more treasures.

Bring Laura Morelli's guides to Venice with you, and you'll be sure to come home with the best of Venice in your suitcase.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laura Morelli holds a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University, where she was a Bass Writing Fellow and Mellon Doctoral Fellow. She authored a column for National Geographic Traveler called “The Genuine Article” and contributes pieces about authentic travel to national magazines and newspapers. Laura has been featured on CNN Radio, Travel Today with Peter Greenberg, The Frommers Travel Show, and in USA TODAY, Departures, House & Garden Magazine, Traditional Home, the Denver Post, Miami Herald, The Chicago Tribune, and other media. Recently her art history lesson, “What’s the difference between art and craft?” was produced and distributed by TED-Ed.

Laura has taught college-level art history at Trinity College in Rome, as well as at Northeastern University, Merrimack College, St. Joseph College, and the College of Coastal Georgia. Laura has lived in five countries, including four years in Italy and four years in France.

Laura Morelli is the author of the guidebook series that includes Made in Italy, Made in France, and Made in the Southwest, all published by Rizzoli / Universe. The Gondola Maker, a historical coming-of-age story about the heir to a gondola boatyard in 16th-century Venice, is her first work of fiction.

Connect with Laura: Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  about.me


WHERE TO BUY THE BOOK
Amazon: Venice Travel Guide
Amazon: Artisans of Venice



Many thanks to Laura Fabiani from Italy Book Tour for the opportunity to be a part of Laura Morelli's book tour. Please visit the other blogs for the Italy Book Tour for Authentic Arts: VENICE Travel Guide for more reviews and giveaways.


Thank you, too, for stopping by! Your comments are most welcomed.

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