February 11, 2015

Venice a Travel Guide - book spotlight and giveaway

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!

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 USATODAY, 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

Interview with Laura Morelli

1. How did you start writing?
Even though I had dreamt of writing a novel for as long as I can remember, a love of history and the visual arts led me to pursue a career in academia. After all, art history is the most fascinating topic in the world! As an art historian, I had the pleasure to teach, research, and write about subjects for which I have a passion. What a job! I relished the hours in the library and loved sharing new material with my students, both in the classroom and in writing.

2. How did you start writing travel guides?
My first foray into non-academic writing came in the form of a specialty travel guide series I published with Rizzoli. With my books Made in ItalyMade in France, and Made in the Southwest, my mission is to lead travelers beyond the tourist traps to discover authentic local traditions and artists, and come home with great treasures in their suitcases. My focus is cultural immersion through a greater appreciation of art objects and the people who make them.

3. Where do you write?
A few years ago I started using a treadmill desk set up across the room from a gigantic monitor. Sometimes I end up walking all day long, even if it’s at a slow pace, which helps keep my brain engaged. I typically have way too many documents open on my giant screen and I need frequent technical support!

4. What do you like to read?
I have always enjoyed historical fiction. I love it when an author can bring the past to life through sights, smells, sounds, and sensations. Some of my favorite authors are Umberto Eco, Abraham Verghese, and Ken Follett. When I was a teenager I consumed horror and paranormal books by the dozens. There is something universally compelling about the macabre.

5. You’ve also written a historical novel. 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 the torch of tradition to the next generation. After hearing that story over and over, I began to wonder what would happen if the successor were not able or willing to take on the duty of passing on his father’s trade. As I interviewed the last remaining gondola makers of Venice, the story of The Gondola Maker, my first work of fiction, germinated inside my head. I wondered about the strict social codes that had once bound boatmakers together in pre-industrial Venice, and what might happen if someone went against the grain.

Be sure to stop by Italy Book Tours (click here) to see all the stops on the tour. 

Feb 2 - Working Mommy Journal - book spotlight
Feb 2 - Library of Clean Reads - book spotlight
Feb 2 - A Blue Million Books - book spotlight / author interview
Feb 2 - Bookroom Reviews - book spotlight / guest post
Feb 2 - FLY HIGH! - book spotlight / guest post
Feb 3 - Il Mio Tesoro - book spotlight / guest post
Feb 3 - View From the Birdhouse - book spotlight / guest post
Feb 3 - Girl With Camera - book spotlight
Feb 3 - Essentially Italian... - book spotlight
Feb 4 - Italophilia - book spotlight / author interview
Feb 4 - Lavish Bookshelf - book spotlight
Feb 5 - Monica Cesarato - book spotlight / author interview
Feb 5 - Studentessa Matta - book spotlight / author interview
Feb 6 - Green and Glassie - book spotlight / author interview
Feb 6 - Reading, Writing, Working, Playing - book spotlight
Feb 6 - 2 Kids and Tired Books - book spotlight
Feb 9 - Like a Bump on a Blog - book spotlight / guest post
Feb 9 - The World As I See It - book spotlight 
Feb 10 - Svetlana's Reads and Views - book spotlight
Feb 10 - Hello, My Name is Alice - book spotlight / author interview
Feb 11 - Griperang's Bookmarks - book spotlight / author interview
Feb 11 - Vic's Media Room - book spotlight / author interview
Feb 11 - Deal Sharing Aunt - book spotlight / guest post
Feb 12 - Book Stop Corner - book spotlight / author interview 
Feb 12 - A Mama's Corner of the World - book spotlight / guest post
Feb 12 - Celticlady's Reviews - book spotlight / guest post
Feb 13 - Young in Rome - book spotlight
Feb 13 - Bluerose's Heart - book spotlight / author interview
The author is giving away a set of these books along with two authentic Carnival masks (one male Bauta style and one female Colombina style). You can enter using the rafflecopter link below. 

The baùta or baùtta
The baùta is the quintessential Venetian mask, worn historically not only at Carnival time but any time a Venetian citizen wished to remain anonymous, such as when he may have been involved in important law-making or political processes in the city. The simplest of the traditional Venetian mask types, the baùta is a stark faceplate traditionally paired with a full-length black or red hooded cloak called a tabàro (or tabàrro), and a tricorn hat, as depicted in paintings and prints by the Venetian artist Pietro Longhi. Most baùte were made of waxed papier-mâché and covered most of the face. The most prominent feature is a distinctive aquiline nose and no mouth. The lower part of the mask protruded outward to allow the mask wearer to breathe, talk, and eat while remaining disguised.

In the Commedia dell’Arte, Colombina played the role of maidservant. The Colombina is a half-mask that covers the forehead down to the cheeks, but leaves the mouth revealed. Originally, it would have been held up to the face by a baton in the hand. The Colombina is often decorated with more feminine flourishes, from gilding to gems and feathers, but both men and women may wear it.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I would like to visit Venice because the city looks beautiful.

  2. How fun!! I collect masks and love Italy! What not to LOVE!!!!!