The trip was a two week tour in Florence, Italy visiting ateliers, showrooms, and museums, followed by a 5 day workshop at the Lisio Foundation learning to weave on antique Jacquard looms. In addition, we took a few days in Rome to take in the Vatican Museum, the Coliseum and the Pantheon. I posted pictures on Facebook and Instagram while on the trip which you can visit by clicking on these links.
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The short version of this adventure is that this was an incredible trip! I enjoyed it because it was focused on textiles and learning. Sarah Light ,of The Tour Studio , arranged the workshops, visits, restaurants, hotels, and transportation and included Valeria Bracaloni as our local guide. The Tour Studio works with local artisans and guides to create exclusive art and craft workshops and trips. Visit their website to see upcoming workshops.
In 2004, I made a trip to Italy with my textile friend, Susan Webb Rebecchi. She had a career in textiles that included a working relationship with mills in Italy. I was fortunate to visit Florence, Milan and Venice with her. Again, it was a trip that focused on textiles. On that trip, I discovered an old silk factory in Florence. The weavers were on a lunch break, so I couldn't visit the workrooms, but I knew that it would be important to return. They wove silks and velvets on Jacquard looms and had a warping mill designed by Leonardo di Vinci. It was called Antico Setificio Fiorentino. On this trip, we were able to visit the workroom, talk with the weavers and see all of the looms. It was marvelous. What a great way to start the trip.
Cappuccinos and brioche became our typical breakfast, followed by light lunches of bruschetta and table wine. Dinners were at restaurants with local specialties on the menu in Italian. I had fun guessing what I was ordering and discovering new foods. Everywhere I turned there things to see. Ancient building still stand among the bustling cities. The textures of old stones and tile roofs captured my eye. Public Squares with fountains were gathering places for the community in the evenings. Restaurant put their tiny tables on the cobblestones outside their doors to advantage of the warm evenings. Each meal was an adventure.
Our five day workshop was at Fondazione Lisio. Their mission is to continue the art of weaving silk , gold and silver on Jacquard looms from the 19th century. They create exclusive fabrics and offer targeted teaching workshops to keep this ancient art alive. It was a privilege to work with Eva Basile as she guided us through punching cards for our designs and learning to weave on these complex looms.
After Lisio, there were more visits to artisan studios that were inspiring. They included embroidered linens, a leather and parchment atelier, a weaving co-operative in Umbria, and an artisan printmaker in Citta Castello. In Perugia, we visited a stained glass workshop which is seven generations old, and our final visit was to the working studio of Giuditta Brozetti which was housed in a 15th century church. This studio also used Jacquard looms. One of their specialties was reproducing woven textile designs from Renaissance paintings.
I have shared the high points of the trip but there are many more impressions of this wonderful experience. I leave you with this short video of other highlights from the trip.