Not too far from Giovanna Zanella’s shoe workshop there’s a nicely named bridge: the bridge of the “bareteri” to recall when in its sorroundings the “barete” were made and sold. A bareta is a soft cap and in Venice there would be many different kinds. Venetians would wear the black cap and it was a sign of Venetian citizenship. When Jews came to live in Venice it was for them compulsory to wear a yellow cap when they left the Ghetto and wandered around the rest of city… with one exception: when they travelled outside Venice they were also allowed to wear the black cap so no one knew they were Jews and would not assault them… well, yes, caps can also save your life!
Here’s the statue of a moor in Cannaregio, not too far from the Jewish Ghetto, who was given a turban… next to the one that was given a nose 🙂
The best known hat in Venice however was the one the Doge of Venice wore. Called “corno” or “zogia” this hat, quite rigid, featured on the back something that looked like a horn (corno) and could be encrusted with jewels and shining pearls. It could be made in silk purple red velvet or in gold yarn. Have a look at this old etching showing the Doge in procession, while the other ones take their caps off, the state leader of Venice proceeds wearing his gorgeous corno:
But also have a look at Elisabetta Querini that being the wife of the doge Valier was the only one that decided to be crowned too even if it was forbidden — mmm… let’s not forget the Querini family had been excluded from the position of doge, so of course, once Elisabetta became a dogaressa (the doge’s wife), how could she resist from not having her special horn?!
There was however an occasion when the doge would wear a very different hat. Every year the Doge had to attend a procession that led him to Campo Santa Maria Formosa, where he thanked the “casselleri” (the artisans making and decorating the dowery chests) for having saved a long time ago young Venetian girls from the Croatian pirates. Ok, you will say, what has a hat to do with this? Well, it seems the Doge didn’t originally want to do any procession to this campo, so searching for excuses to avoid this, he timidly added, should I come even if it rains?! Well, the casselleri responded: “No worry Doge, we will give you a straw hat.” So here is a detail of the (please mind!) gilded straw hat of the last doge, beautifully preserved in the Correr museum! What is fancier than a straw hat covered with gold leaf?
Not too far from the bridge Bareteri, there’s the calle of the Cappeller (hat maker) and wherelse can the most original hat shop in Venice be if not here?
Giuliana Longo‘s laboratory and shop was founded by her family in 1911. It has been labelled as a historical store and for over 100 years Venetians and visitors have found here the most extraordinary hats of Venice. On the door you are welcomed by the straw hats of the gondoliers:
A small shop, steep steps that lead to the laboratory upstairs with a huge mirror and lots of colors, different shapes, materials. Here you can find hats and caps coming from South and Central America, Europe and Asia… and Venice welcoming all of them in this tiny place 🙂
Look at some details and look at the so called stropicciati, “creased hats” that Giuliana invented:
And what I like about Giuliana’s place is that it’s a shop where there’s more than shopping…
First of all, guests greet when they enter. I guess that it’s because of the cozy atmosphere and you can’t help it saying “Buongiorno!”. But I have heard so many shop owners in the city complain how little politeness there is. People just enter, touch things and leave: a sign, I believe, of how we are all getting used to large malls and little human contact when we shop 🙁
And then in Giuliana’s workshop you can end up talking about politics, too. Giuliana is really concerned and socially active in Venice. The large cruise ships issue in Venice. The political class of the city. The interventions in the lagoon. Can politics relate to hats?! Well, years ago, in 2011, an artist from Albania, Anila Rubiku arranged in Venice an exhibition asking women to embroider on hats their stories as immigrants… and offered pins saying “hats protect ideas”… oh yes, they really do!
by Luisella Romeo
registered tourist guide in Venice, Italy