Taking a different walk early in the morning through the neighborhoods of Venice always brings surprises. I was wandering through Sestiere Santa Croce window shopping, looking for great Kodak moments when a small shop with a tiny gondola which appeared to be made of recycled soda cans caught my eye. I was still peeking through the window when the owner arrived. We said hello and he began explaining what he and the cooperative does. He is passionate about the work of the group and what it means to the people.
Massimo’s pride is the cooperative, founded in 1989 with Venetian leather artisans, supporting the disadvantaged, young people with problems. Their objective is helping these people work towards autonomy and finding their place in society, each contributing according to their capabilities. The affiliate organization which has a shop at the foot of the Rialto Bridge in prime retail property is Botteghe del Mondo where the focus is on teaching skills to the underpriviledged and helping children!
The bright colors of their products will draw you in, the quality and the story behind will keep you there. The hand-made sandals are produced by a non profit cooperative in Palestine with local materials to help fund education and social services for children in Palestine refugee camps. The brightly colored handbags are handmade by a local cooperative, Coop Filo, near Venice working with disadvantaged and troubled youth. The gondolas are made by this creative group using recycled cans with so much detail. They are irresistible!
And that’s the story, these gondolas mean much more to the people who make them. They represent their future!
So if you are in Venice, stop by and take a look. Purchase a souvenir which will make you feel good and support a great cause.