In 2006, my family was fortunate enough to spend Christmas in Venice. Not the most popular destinations for the holidays but easily one of the most magnificent. We had the entire city practically to ourselves. It was much colder than I had anticipated and as we stood in front of Saint Mark's with the sun streaming down, there was the slightest hint of frozen mist suspended throughout the square creating the feeling of being in our own snow globe that glittered wildly. Certainly a memory forever.
Earlier in the day, we split up as a family and headed off in the directions that were calling to us. My husband and two of our daughters took a tour of La Teatro Fenice, the beautiful opera house destroyed by fire and laborously rebuilt to its original splendor. We all had just finished reading John Berendt's, The City of Fallen Angels, which describes the events surrounding that incident and they were curious to see it for themselves. My third daughter and I opted to take a different route and ended up at the large Gothic palazzo in Campo San Beneto that is home to the Fortuny Museum.
The interior is set up as it was when Mariano Fortuny lived and worked there. Spanish by birth, the son of an artist, Mr. Fortuny moved to Venice when he was 18 after completing his studies as a painter. Here his focus shifted from painting to set design and stage lighting--being influenced to do so after seeing a Wagner opera. (I like opera, but Wagner??) Admiration for his work spread throughout Europe, taking him deeper into the design world that lead him to fabric, printed textiles and clothing. Home decor and color photography took hold of him prior to returning to Venice to take up painting once again before his death in 1949.
My daughter and I had a beautiful afternoon visiting the home of this very talented man. His paintings, photography and fabric design were so ahead of his time, as was his fashion. We had the whole place to ourselves and the docent that greeted us, toured with us and in very broken English wove a passionate story of Mr. Fortuny's life. All in all, I would have to say it was one incredible day!!