Tag Archives: art

The Gondola Maker – A Book Review



The setting is Renaissance Venice.  Wouldn’t you know it?  That’s one of my favorite subjects, so when presented with the opportunity from Italy Book Tours to review the newest book by Laura Morelli, I jumped on the bandwagon right away.  And boy am I glad I did!  The book was everything I wanted it to be…and more!

Laura Morelli, the author of several shopper’s guides – Made in Italy, Made in France, and Made in the Southwest – has done a wonderful job bringing Renaissance Venice to life in her first novel.



The Gondola Maker follows the story of young Luca, the heir to one of the best gondola-making families in Venice.  After the death of his mother and a terrible fire that destroyed the gondola “factory”, Luca left the only life he had ever known and went off on his own.  His adventures in “Our Most Serene Republic” take him from some awful lows to moments of extreme pride and accomplishment.  Laura’s vivid descriptions of everything – from the plush fabrics used to decorate the gondolas and the garments worn by the noblemen, to the stench of the sewage-filled canals – makes you feel as if you’ve ventured back 500 years with all the romance and strife of life in a Venice so different from today.


Luca’s passionate attention to his craft of restoring and creating the beautiful work of art that is the Venetian gondola makes us appreciate, all the more, this unique mode of transportation that is so synonymous with Venice, itself.  And anyone with a passion for creating art will relate to that most innate passion that is part of one’s being and cannot be taken away, no matter the circumstances.


I can promise you that after you read this book, you will pay careful attention to every detail of the next gondola that you ride in – once you get to Venice, of course, and fork over the 100 euros it takes to ride one of these beauties through those same canals and by those same richly decorated palaces of so many years ago.

The Gondola Maker has won several awards including:

IPPY Award for Best Adult Fiction E-book 
Finalist for the National Indie Excellence Award 
Finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award 
Shortlisted for the da Vinci Eye Prize 

Here’s a little bit about Laura Morelli, the author of this great book:

View More: http://sarahdeshawphotographers.pass.us/laura-morelli

Laura Morelli earned a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University, where she was a Bass Writing Fellow and an Andrew W. Mellon Doctoral Fellow. She has taught college art history in the U.S. and at Trinity College in Rome. She is the creator of the authentic guidebook series that includes Made in ItalyMade in France, and Made in the Southwest, published by Rizzoli. Laura is a frequent contributor to National Geographic Traveler and other national magazines and newspapers. A native of coastal Georgia, she is married and is busy raising four children. The Gondola Maker is her first work of fiction.


Would you like to win a copy of her book?

Just click here, a Rafflecopter giveaway, and you will have the chance to get your very own copy FREE!

Of course, you can also purchase the book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Book Depository.



A fare l’arte – Una cosa bella o brutta?


Ho deciso di scrivere questo post in italiano perche` mi voglio sfogare in qualche posto, e siccome il tema del mio blog e` “tutto italia” non potevo scrivere di qualche cosa non italiano in inglese!!! 

Come sapete, io disegno e pitturo le piastrelle.  Mi piace farlo tantissimo…mi rilascia ed e` una espressione della mia creativita`.  Ma delle volte mi fa` anche diventare matta!!!  Tutti mi dicano che l’arte non dev’essere perfetto – sono queste qualita` che da il fascino artistico alle cose fatte a mano.  Ma quando, dopo aver speso TANTE ore a creare dei pezzi molto belli, finiscano male, vuoi spattere via tutto!  Questo e proprio cosa mi e` successo questo weekend.  Forse sono stata stupida anch’io a voler provare nuove piastrelle e nuovi smalti.  Quelli di prima erano OK…ma sai, si vuole sempre cercare quel elemento che ti porta alla perfezione.  Allora ho deciso di provare con queste nuove cose….e, purtroppo, ho pagato bene il prezzo.  Sarebbe stato una cosa se facevo le prove con solamente una piastrella ….o no, io ho deciso di fare un arsenale di piastrelle con, per la paga, disegni molto complessi.  Cosa pensavo?  Ovviamente, pensavo che avevo trovato la formula ottima e che queste piastrelle sarebberano le piu` belle che mai.  Potete solo immaginare il mio dolore quando le ho levate dal forno ed ho visto tutte le imperfezioni.  Mi sono demoralizzata completamente.  Con le piastrelle disastrose in mano, sono persino andata allo studio di ceramica dove compro tutti i miei attrezzi per chiedere consigli.  Uno disse che il forno era troppo caldo…l’altro disse che il smalto era messo troppo pessante….poi un altro che le piastrelle di terra cotta hanno troppe inperfezioni….Uffa!!!  Qual’e` giusto?  Per conto mio, e` stata la colpa dei nuovi smalti.  Purtroppo, quando mi succedano questi grattacapi, mi lascia disgustata di tutto che non voglio piu toccare l’arte per tanto tempo. Anche che, per remedio,  dovrei incominciare a fare tutte le prove per trovare la soluzione giusta.  Ma c’e lo la pazienza per tutto questo?  Per ora, sicuramente NO!  Mi devo lasciare calmare per un po e poi spero di aver la volonta` di proseguire con quest’arte che usualmente mi porta tanta gioia.


I decided to write this post in Italian because I have to vent, and since the theme of my blog is “everything Italian”, I couldn’t write about something non-Italian in English!!

As you know, I design and paint tiles.  I enjoy doing this immensely….it relaxes me and it’s an expression of my creativity.  But at times it also makes me crazy!!  Everyone tells me that art doesn’t need to be perfect – it’s these qualities that add artistic charm to pieces made by hand.  But when, after spending MANY hours creating beautiful pieces, these pieces turn out bad, you want to throw everything away!  This is exactly what happened this weekend.  Maybe I was stupid to want to try out new tiles and new glazes. The ones I used before were OK….but, you know, we are always searching for that one element that will bring you to perfection.  Therefore, I decided to try out these new things…and, unfortunately, I paid the price dearly.  It would have been one thing if I did a test with only one tile….oh, no, I decided to make a whole arsenal of tiles with very complicated patterns. What was I thinking?  Obviously, I thought that I had found the perfect formula and that these tiles would be the most beautiful ones I have ever created.  You can only imagine the heartache when I removed them from the kiln and I saw all the imperfections. I was completely demoralized.  With the ruined tiles in hand, I went down to the ceramic studio where I buy all my supplies to ask for advice.  One said that my kiln was too hot…the other said the glazes were put on too thick…yet another said that terra cotta tiles have imperfections…Darn it!!!  Who is right? In my opinion, it was the new glazes’ fault.  Unfortunately, when these headaches happen to me, I get disgusted and I lose interest in doing any art for a long time.  Even though, as a remedy, I should start doing test tiles to find the solutions.  But do I have the patience for all this?  For now, certainly NOT!  I have to let myself calm down, and then I hope to have the desire to continue this art process that usually brings me so much joy.