The following is an opinion piece by Gualtiero Dall’Osto, a master mask maker who lives and works in Venice.
Dall’Osto’s op-ed was originally published in Italian. It is translated here by Sarah Jennie Goldman.
Artistic craftsmanship helps to beautify Venice.
Its presence and vitality are a litmus test that determines the quality of the material, the socio-cultural identity, which Venice deserves to wear once again: to re-appropriate it and to flaunt it, to find and to take back that which belongs to its most true and intimate character.
All of which will happen, I hope, before its destiny is compromised.
Venice, “all of Venice,” intended here as an entity, is the ideal incubator for recreating the conditions in which to cultivate small, artistic businesses, across all sectors. A city which promotes workshops, creativity, trades, gestures, experiences and the magic of the “Made in loco.”
We often say we wish quality tourism would return to the Venetian alleys, yet we do everything to the contrary of what we should to draw it in, favoring instead an unsophisticated mass tourism that, however, makes for big numbers (!!).
As we artisans well know, so-called “quality tourism” adds value by creating constructive exchanges, important relationships and enriching, in its various facets, the place it patronizes.
Mass tourism runs, steals, takes, dirties, and impoverishes the territory; wherever it is encouraged and wherever it flourishes, there’s often an aim of reducing the offer and the quality of this offer to the guests.
A schizophrenic Venice–currently a city of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde–proposes, on one hand, culturally important and intriguing offers (The Biennale, Art, Film, Theater, Museums), to which a “quality tourist” can go by taxi, taking advantage of these riches without ever having to contaminate him/herself with the “other” Venice: a bazaar of clogged streets overrun and transfigured by mediocre rubbish that costs 1 euro, with 50 to 70 percent off.
Creating the conditions to help increase the number of craftsmen in the city also aims at recreating a Venice with a reunified identity. It’s a proposal that has been ignored for too long, but which reintroduces a commitment to “that honor” whose road also passes, surely, this way.
Gualtiero Dall’Osto can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org