Another post from my armchair travel series during Covid-19. This time I’ll take you on a window shopping tour of Venice with an emphasis on glassware, including face masks that come with a long nose…
I promised a window-shopping trip in Venice so window-shopping we will go. Staring in store windows is fun. Like people watching, it falls under the category of vicarious pleasure. And it’s free. Of course the shop owners have other objectives in mind.
Venice does a fabulous job with window displays. We saw mouth-watering pastries, chocolate fantasies, clunky shoes, a bejeweled rear end, and an interesting ceramic cow.
What impressed me the most about the window displays in Venice were those featuring glassware and masks. Both reach back into the city’s ancient history.
How many places can claim they have been “supplying quality glass products since 1291”? That’s the year that a Venice made of wood required all of its glass makers to move to the island of Murano in the Venice Lagoon. Community leaders feared that the glass making process would burn the city down. Venice quickly became the center of Europe’s trade in beautiful glass objects.
The upside for the glass makers was that they were invited into the highest ranks of Venetian society. The downside was they were threatened with having their hands chopped off or assassination if they moved and took their talents elsewhere.
Venetians apparently carried out numerous activities they felt were best done while wearing masks. For example, in 1339 Venice passed a law that forbade inhabitants from visiting convents while wearing masks. One can only wonder. During plague times doctors wore long nose masks they believed protected them from the disease. Today masks are a central part of the Carnival of Venice that ends on Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras).
NEXT POST: Continuing on our armchair journey during Covid-19, it’s off to Pompeii to visit with the gods.
44 thoughts on “Face Masks During the Plague— Plus Window Shopping: Venice… Armchair Travel”
They all were interesting, but I particularly liked Medusa’s snakes.
I know! A totally different approach to Medusa’s slithery hair. Those snakes had real personality! Did you ever see my post on Medusa at Burning Man, Ray? If not, it’s worth a visit: https://wandering-through-time-and-place.com/2016/01/15/
One of my favorite posts ever!
Peek into beauty, history, medicine and sociology…
Now this window shopping is worth gazing through. (Having been trained in window display, there is a huge difference in quality artistic and simply crammed the merchandise in a pile to show people what we have that they can buy. Sigh. Big box stores have killed the elegance)
That glass chandelier is by a famous artist I think. One huge one was donated to the San Antonio main library when it built a new building. If you ever get there, you gotta wander 2 blocks off the River walk and see it (and there’s a great little local lunch spot almost next door in an old convent. Also worth sampling)
fabulous post (and timely).
Thanks, Phil. Appreciated! A great window display always has the power to draw you in. And if it doesn’t, it at least makes a contribution to the attractiveness of a town or city. And some displays qualify as art. Interesting that you were trained in the field. I would assume it is an aspect of interior decoration. Presentation makes a difference, whether you are selling diamond pendants or oranges. Thanks for the suggestion on San Antonio. I will keep it in mind. –Curt
More like effective marketing – but having art experience is critical for the high dollar retail. Maybe more like architecture than interior design which is a whole different ball game/function.
It was a great experience ( if a low paid one) – Christmas store displays were old school magic then. Started work on them in July and no Christmas appeared until that grand door opening the day after Thanksgiving. It was crazy city getting all that done over night, but seeing people’s faces – especially the kids was worth it all. (And I actually knew the woman the script “The Devil wore Prada” was based on. Seriously – what an adventure. Luckily she liked what I did…woe to all the others…)
Great post Curt. I loved visiting Venice, such an absolutely beautiful place. Your virtual tour was very fun! (and no pigeons or throngs of tourists… a plus!) 🙂
Thanks, Sylvia! It is a truly unique city. We are pretty good at avoiding popular tourist destinations at the height of tourist season. But pigeons— they are a bit harder to avoid. 🙂 –Curt
Did you buy a mask Curt. We did, thought it would look good on the wall. It is in a drawer somewhere now!
We bought one, Andrew. In getting ready for this post, I went looking for it. It was no where to be found. Peggy thinks that she may have given it to her daughter. But who knows? It may be in a drawer or a box, or… –Curt
Pointless Souvenirs Curt!
We have our share! 🙂
It’s always best to stick to window shopping in Venice 😉
It certainly saves money. 🙂 –Curt
I found this post to be visually stimulating. I loves the pictures and the thought of travel. Thank you for the post.
Glad you enjoyed it Molly! Thanks for visiting. –Curt
I’m sure someone would like it, but that ceramic cow looks like a 5-year old got hold of a tube of super-glue and Grandma’s old china.
Perfect, G. 🙂 But I’m pretty sure that the price didn’t reflect that! –Curt
haha, I never said I was an art connoisseur!
Actually, G, I think I took the photo because of the Got Milk sign on the cows udder. It may not have been art that tickled my fancy. 🙂
hahaha, NOW I understand!
Just what I needed—a dose of fabulous window shopping. And it cost me nothing.
The price is right! 🙂 An no bargaining required.
Curt, we truly love glassware and have for years. But finally, we had to put in on our NO BUY list. It’s everything a traveler (and people who move often) doesn’t need: fragile, heavy, and usually expensive. I’m always attracted to it though, but you have the right idea – window shopping. ~James
It took us a while, James, but eventually we found that having a photograph of something we like is equal to, if not better, than owning it. If we really love a scene or an object we can always turn it into an 8×10 glossy photo and put it up on our wall. 🙂 It certainly is less expensive! –Curt
I agree with you, James. Though if you were to display your glassware in some display cabinets, then they can be kept out of harm’s way and still be admire for their delightful artistry!
Curt, what a wonderful time you must have had in Venice! Since I have always like Murano glassware and jewellery, I am now living vicariously through your eyes and your written accounts and photos. Thank you.
Much appreciated, SoundEagle. Venice is a wonderful combination of history and art. Thanks. –Curt
Indeed, both Venice and Florence have been the crucibles for history and art.
Speaking of glassware, you might be interested in the topics presented in my post entitled “🔮 Marble as Decorative Collectable, Art Glass, Toy and Computer Game 🎮” published at https://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2013/09/25/marble-as-decorative-collectable-art-glass-toy-and-computer-game/
That was more than I ever read about marbles. A fascinating tale. Thanks Sound Eagle. I grew up playing marbles in the 40s and 50s… and normally had quite bag full! I also remember playing Chinese Checkers. –Curt
I am delighted to read your comment here. Thank you for your feedback and compliment. Given that your comment pertains to my said post, I would really appreciate it if you could kindly leave your lovely comment in my post too.
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Yes, Chinese Checkers can provide a great deal of fun.
Thank you. May you have a wonderful weekend, Curt. 🙂
Got here! I had to change the browser to be able to comment, sadly WordPress and Safari don’t get on well. Venice is so good for striking colours and great scenery, enjoyed looking through your lens, Curt. Haven’t been to Venice for many years, but I was absolutely taken by the masks (but didn’t buy one). 🙂
Glad you made it, Dina! Fortunately my Safari seems to behave better. 🙂 Venice seems to be made for photography. I would definitely like to see what you and your camera would do with it. 🙂 –Curt
Love the creativity and vibrant colors
No end to it! The glass work is incredible.
I’ve always wondered what those beak-like nose pieces were for — thanks for the info. It makes sense!!! And thanks for so many other good masks. Alas, our masks we’re wearing in America aren’t nearly so ornate or interesting.
I wonder if they created a filter that blocked plague germs as well as the smell.
I think the face masks are getting more creative, Rusha. 🙂 Peggy made dragon face masks for the grandkids. –Curt
Don’t tell my granddaughter. She’ll want Peggy for a grandmother!!
Knowing Peggy, she would gladly take them on! 🙂
I’ve always been impressed with sophisticated glasswork, often with a “how the heck did they do that?” question. My sister and her husband in Denver have a glass studio, and having tried to blow a shot glass a couple times I can attest even the simple stuff isn’t easy.
We did pick up a glass couple figurines in Venice (or maybe Murano, it was a long time ago.) One was quite delicate, and I was impressed it made it home in one piece.
Having watched a few glass blowers at work, I have to agree, Dave. It’s a fascinating craft and art. Lucky you. I’ll bet that you had it well wrapped! –Curt