Another special day: thank you Giovanni

While walking through San Polo, I was pleasantly surprised to run into Giovanni Vio, whom I had mentioned in a previous post. He  very kindly invited me to see his studio on the Lido, where all manner of ceramic and terracotta works are produced. (His website is

The fence around the property announces that this is not an ordinary suburban home. Examples of the work are embedded into the wall.




Looking like biscuits lined up to go into an oven, these clay articles are drying out, waiting their turn to go into the kiln.


Giovanni in one area of the large studio, with more terracotta pieces awaiting attention. I had no idea how labour intensive it all is.


Wet clay is pressed into moulds like this, and allowed to rest for a while.  Giovanni can judge when enough moisture has been drawn out of the clay, which shrinks a little from the sides of the mould. Then, he will turn the mould over, give it a tap, and the raw piece will drop out. (I hate to think how many pieces I might ruin before I got even this beginning stage correct!)


The clay is sourced from Bassano del Grappa. (And I thought that area was famous for another product … grappa.)

This is the typical colour I associate with terracotta products. But, they have a few techniques they use in the studio, to produce a variety of effects.


For instance, paint may be applied, or steel wool used to scrub away parts of the surface, to give an aged look.



Ground coloured glass is also used, and fused onto the terracotta pieces, to provide yet another attractive variation.

P1060586          P1060585


The kiln used to bake the clay, or to fuse the glass onto the terracotta, reaches 1000 degrees Celsius. (This reminded me of the heat of the molten metal at the Valese Foundry.)


I’ll leave you with a few more images; it is not easy to do justice to the scale of the work done, nor the passion that is obvious in this third generation artist. I appreciate the generosity shown by Giovanni, who locked his shop in San Polo for several hours to take me to his studio.

P1060582 P1060595 P1060605 P1060606


Filed under Venice

35 responses to “Another special day: thank you Giovanni

  1. Andrew

    He’s making me a small lion wall fountain to order. I didn’t want the border on the one in the shop so he’s making one specially and shipping it to me in the UK. What a diamond geezer.


  2. Sig. Nonloso

    What a great place! And day.


  3. Caroline

    I’m very interested in the large statue of a woman – that says to me that Giovanni is not just a craftsman but an artist. Do you know anything about it, the subject and for where it’s intended? It reminds me just a little of the famine monument in Dublin. It’s also interesting to me I didn’t know that in antiquity there was a tradition of large scale terracotta statues, some painted, until I was researching my ‘old art’ lectures.


    • I’ll have to ask Giovanni about it; he’s not the only artist in the family.

      I went to the exhibition of the works of his grandfather Romano Vio, in the Palazzo Ferro Fini. It’s on until 26 aprile …..


  4. What a wonderful place! Thanks for sharing these great pictures.


  5. julie

    Found out from Peter on TA there was a Beatification going on. How was the dig today in Torcello ? hoping for pics 🙂 .. was so lovely and unexpected to hear you voice on the vap today ! … ❤


    • It is all pretty low key, but one of the 2 digs has revealed treasures from 800-900 AD. There was a buried pozzo, remains of a fornace (glass making) and kiln for making pottery and ceramics. Remnants of glass and ceramics have been taken to Mestre for analysis, dating, etc. Layers of carbon are interpreted as wooden buildings that had been destroyed by fire.

      A lot of the marble, etc., that would have been there before has ended up somewhere in Venice … recycled.


  6. jan Graham

    Quite a Aladdins cave, is this Mr Bike ??


  7. julie

    What a fantastic experience on the Lido Yvonne … I love Giovanni’s work. I love the Lido too…sun looks lovely. You need to investigate ehat is happening in San Marco today, looks like a lot of chairs set out in front of the Basilica. Report back ! 🙂


  8. This time, I had a black (!) jacket, Michelle. I think it’s almost time that I can safely put it away, the sun is so nice and warm.


  9. What an amazing day! I can’t help but think that one of the joys of traveling alone is that you don’t remain alone. You are open to opportunities like this one.
    And I agree about the red coat and the winning smile.


  10. Wow Yvonne, what a fantastic experience! How generous of him to show you his studio and he must so appreciate your enthusiasm and interest in his work. Very, very special.


  11. MaryK

    I just love, love, love that wall – it would make my hear lift every time I walked past.
    And the generosity of Giovanni is just such a joy too! Isn’t it lovely when you have that opportunity to get to know the artist and realise how proud and passionate they are about their work.


  12. Rob C

    Yvonne, that’s fantastic, your lucky red coat (and winning smile) had done it again 🙂


    • Rob, the hospitality and generosity of Italians in general, and Venetians in particular, just floors me. Every day, something happens that makes me realise how special they are.

      I kind of think I might be back again. 🙂


  13. Livia

    Venice people seem to love you Yvonne!


  14. Yvonne…what a fun adventure!! It was so generous of Giovanni…soooo Italian….I’m always amazed at their generosity.
    Thanx for your delightful post!!! Great images….


  15. JoanneH

    What fun I will have to visit his shop next time I am there I live in an old adobe house from the 30ies and would to have some of these tiles.


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