It was a hot summer day when I made my first trip to Venice. I had just turned 21 and, like so many other young people, I was looking for adventure and new experiences. I could not imagine that this trip would change the course of my life.
I immediately fell in love with the city, its canals, its palaces and its masks. I could not resist the fascination of those extraordinary objects, which represented the beauty, culture and history of the city. So I decided to move to Venice and start working with masks.
I started out as an apprentice in an expert craftsman's workshop, who taught me all the secrets of working with wood and papier-mâché. I learned to make masks for Carnivals, plays and street performances. My teacher showed me how to bring to life the most diverse characters, from the tragic to the comic, from the serious to the funny.
Photography, Laura Spina
Over time, I became a skilled craftsman and became a partner of my master. I began to create increasingly complex and original masks, inspired by Venetian traditions and culture. My workshop soon became very well known and my clients came from all over the world.
But not only the work made me happy, also the city and its inhabitants made me feel at home, the Italians were always very affectionate and with a great sense of humour, tragicomic and funny.
My life with Venetian masks has been a constant source of inspiration and joy. I discovered a new and fascinating world, and I was lucky enough to turn my passion into a profession. Now, every time I look at a mask, I feel the magic of Venice and the beauty of its culture.
After starting my life in Venice, I started to know the city in a different way. I was no longer just a tourist, but a resident who saw tourists from all over the world arrive. Every day I met new people to share stories and listen to the Italian language that I loved so much every day.
The warmth of Venice and the smells of the city had become familiar to me and I loved sitting on a terrace with a glass of wine and watching the world go by. I heard stories of love and unrequited love, and realized the city was full of stories and secrets.
Photography, Laura Spina
Italian culture is so full of self-love, the people are culturally rich and always on the cutting edge of fashion and art. Everywhere there were art exhibits, paintings and sculptures for me to admire. I loved walking through the streets of Venice and discovering hidden corners, ancient churches and palaces with incredible stories.
My life in Venice has been full of anecdotes and adventures. I met many friends with whom I shared a thousand stories, we drank in the city, we ate together, we slept on the street and we had so much fun. I have spent many very cold winters, but Venice retained an enviable magic.
I worked in my laboratory day and night, I was in love with my work, my laboratory and everything that happened there. I was really happy making my own venetian masks. My hands were always wet and dirty with paper and glue, and they were also dirty with chalk plaster. My clothes were always stained or with some defect due to my work, but that didn't matter to me, I was proud of my work and of being a craftsman.
My friends and I spent our evenings exploring the canals of Venice, admiring the old buildings and palaces. Once, while we were having an aperitif on a terrace, we saw a procession of decorated boats pass below us. It was a wonderful show that I will never forget.
I also remember a particular night when my friend Ale and I decided to sleep on the street. We choose a quiet place near the church of San San Pantalone and lie down on the steps of the church. It was a hot night, but we were so tired that we quickly fell asleep. However, when we woke up the next morning, we realized we had slept in a place with a stunning view.
Venice is a city full of stories and anecdotes. I lived there for many years and never got tired of discovering new things about it. I'm grateful for all the adventures I've had there and all the wonderful people I've met.
Over time I understood that Venice was not only a beautiful city, but my city, I also understood that it was a city full of life and interesting people. I had come to love Venice not only for its beauty, but also for its stories, culture and people. Now, every time I go back to Venice, I feel at home and I'm grateful that I started my life in this wonderful city. Venice will always have a special place in my heart.
Photograph by Laura Spina