Tours and Excursions

Take a tour--or a class--at Venice's Orsoni mosaic foundry

Orsoni color library
ABOVE: The Color Library at the Orsoni mosaic foundry, where colored glass is turned into tiny tiles. INSET BELOW "Peggy," a portrait of the late Peggy Guggenheim by Maestra Anntonella Gallenda, who teaches Master in Mosaic classes at Orsoni.

Peggy Guggenheim mosaic portrait by Antonella GallendaOrsoni, in Venice's sestiere or district of Cannaregio, has been an important source of glass mosaic tiles since 1888. More than 110 years after its founding, the foundry still crafts its tessere with fire, glass, pigment, and 24-karat gold. It also offers classes and accommodation in its own B&B, where mosaics are a prominent design theme.

A company spokeswoman writes: 

"Entering through a secluded garden, Orsoni is an oasis of artisan beauty. Over 2,000 colors of mosaic smalti are filed in the Color Library, the used crucibles display remnants of liquid rainbow batter, and the elegant Domus Orsoni with each of its five unique bedrooms is a vision of contemporary mosaic design. Orsoni is Italy's only artiturismo (inspired by the Italian word artigiani for artisan),  providing the opportunity to experience an intimate, working Venice. 

"Staying at Domus Orsoni allows a rare glimpse into the Orsoni legacy that has existed in Venice for generations and impacted the creation of mosaics throughout the world

"The Orsoni Master in Mosaic classes originated by Honorary President Lucio Orsoni and taught by  Maestra Antonella Gallenda, provide an immersion into the heart of Venetian artistry and culture. Students from beginning hobbyists to professional artists use a traditional hammer and hardie to cut the glass tesserae, study andamento to create movement and choose from the expansive Orsoni palette of colors to learn subtle shading techniques. For architecture and design professionals, continuing-education units are available through IIDA, ASID and IDEC.

"Whether visiting the foundry for a private tour (by appointment only), staying as a guest at Domus Orsoni (beginning at Euro 80 per night) or participating in a 3, 5 or 10 day mosaic class, the Orsoni artiturismo is an authentic experience that brings a remarkable understanding to Venice and the Byzantine beauty of San Marco Basilica.

"Information about the foundry and classes can be found at  More information about Domus Orsoni can be found at"

Editor's note: We intend to write an in-depth description of an Orsosi tour in due course, but in the meantime, we suggest reading Karen Henderson's account of her visit to the foundry.

Photos: Orsoni.

On Murano: Simone Cenedese's 'Comet Glass Star'

Cheryl was on Murano, Venice's glassmaking island, yesterday when she spotted a glass sculpture on display on the Campo San Stefano near the Murano clock tower and the San Pietro Martire Church. 

The work, titled "Comet Glass Star," was created by master glassmaker Simone Cenedese, who has a workshop and gallery on the island. Below are several photos of the scupture, which was assembled from 500 blown glass elements in six colors and a variety of sizes.

For more information on Signor Cenedese and his company, visit To plan your trip to the island by public water bus, see our 12-page Murano Travel Guide.

Simone Cenedese's 'Comet Glass Star' and Murano clock tower
Comet Glass Star sculpture on Murano"Comet Glass Star" sculpture by Simone Cenedesedifferent sizes. In 6 different tones of colours from wh