Today was a SUCCESSFUL day that started with the purchase of our train tickets to Florence from Venice (only took 5 minutes from the aptly named Fast Ticket booth – like BART, though for trips all over Italy!). The water bus (AKA ferry boat) took more than an hour to round trip, however. But all done by 9:30 am! Murano next.
My hopes to reach Murano BEFORE Afro Celotto took off for the day (anywhere from 11 am to 1 pm – when he’s gone for sure!), well, just wasn’t going to happen as Amy was still asleep when I got back to the hostel…
In record time we were out the door, and it took FOREVER to get the DM ferry (Direct Murano?) from Ferrovia station with a crowd of people packed on the dock! Only small ferry boats were available, as they have to go under a rather low bridge – so the 159 person limit was often reached by the time the ferry arrived from Plaza le Roma next door (bus station).
We reached Murano by 11:10 am, and RAN to Afro’s studio on 25 Calle Bertolini – and heard music playing! It was a good sign. Chris said that if there’s music, that meant Afro was in and working.
Afro at first didn’t recognize who were were when we entered the studio, but when I mentioned the email from Chris, he remembered that we were coming (Chris sure is a memorable kind of guy!). Afro warmly (no pun intended) greeted us and introduced us to a glass artist working on the next bench (Rino) and his assistant (Sabatino?) blowing goblets, and a friend of his, Giotto who introduced himself as, “Charlie!”
We video’d the goblet-making as Afro said that he was only making beaks for his flamingos, and that Rino was doing more interesting things. Indeed, Rino was! Rino gathered on his pipe from the cobalt blue color pot inside the furnace that served as glory hole, too. He then rolled the hot glass in a pile of the famous Murano-known copper aventurine shards. The gather became a goblet bowl. After making several in different shapes and sizes, he and his assistant began the meticulous process of making the intricate and delicate gold-leafed stems of a winged dragon. Each stem took about 30 minutes to make, from the dragon’s body and curls, to feet, head, beak, tongue (!), eyes, and finally the wings – clipped from a solid bit of glass strategically placed on the dragon’s back. Rino worked calmly and confidently. His assistant also knew the next steps, anticipating the next moves.
While we were watching and I was filming, I noticed that Amy got teased and entertained by all in the studio. They seemed pleased that we stopped in to visit and watch. But, it seems more than that, based on the many countries we’ve visited. Amy is such a sport about it all, and shyly accepts the attention. Once comfortable however, she kids them back! I’ve received comments about her wit and wisdom. Like my sister, Amy’s auntie Kathy, had once said to me, “She’s like a little ol’ Lady!” meaning that she’s mature for her age – and as a compliment (yes, Kathy clarified that to make sure it wasn’t taken wrong! Ha ha!).
Afro showed us around his studio, and mentioned that the next time Chris comes, he can stay in the loft upstairs, and that he wouldn’t even have worry about food, drink, or a place to sleep, or go to Venice. Amy piped up and asked him if he has a boat to get around. Of course he does, and uses it to get to Venice occasionally. He also asked when WE would be coming back to Venice on our trip, but alas, it is Amy’s first time in Europe, so we won’t be returning to Venice this time around … But, who knows?!?!?!?! So, he said that when we come back next time, we could also stay with him in the studio! Well, at least it’d be WARM!
The time at the studio went by so quickly, and Afro invited us to join him and Giotto for sandwiches at a local restaurant. As we walked to the place, Afro was stopped, and greeted by many along the way. At the osteria, many MORE people obviously knew him. He ordered us a platter of Italian lunchmeats, bread, and for himself, a tuna and pickled baby onions platter, as well as a beer from Denmark. After lunch, he ordered cappuccino and grappe for us. Grappe is a natural grape drink, or so Afro explained. He even rubbed his hands with it to dispel the alcohol and the smell was of grapes, sweet.
Afro told us about his visits to America, and talking with Mark Murai, David Camner, Dave Pachen, and even Treg! He wishes to go to America again, but Venice keeps a tight leash on him, too. It was fun talking with him and listening to his stories about glass and his life.
Afro showed us his gallery, introduced us to Nicola, his agent at the gallery (I’m sorry I didn’t get a picture of him – camera battery died – but he’s as bald as Afro, but taller). The works at the gallery are stunning, and so much BEAUTIFUL glass artwork! Afro’s works are also in a special large area gallery upstairs. He showed us his glass jewelry that emulates opalized fossils – the lustre and refractions like crystals and opals. The vases and colors of his — they were amazing, and yet, he told us it was just the leftovers as the best were already sold!
Anyway, we then walked to the ferry pier as our time on Murano was up, and we had to pack and get to Ferrovia train station to Florence. Afro took us, and since we had ten minutes, he ordered us another round of cappuccinos and grappe, and Amy got several packages of Haribo gummies!
While we sat waiting for our ferry back to Venice, I asked Afro WHERE did he get his name. He laughed and said that it’s Greek – for Aphrodite! So, the spelling ought to be, Aphro! His is named after his father, Aphrodizzio (sp?). Alas, all good things must come to an end sometime … We boarded the ferry, Afro gave us several kisses each before we got on, and then ran away! Must be an Italian thing?
We had just gotten on the ferry, and we missed Afro already! He is a passionate and emotional kind of guy! Of course – his name IS “Love!”