A Modern Day Geppetto in Venice

Photo by Karen Henderson

Who doesn’t remember this lovable character from the Disney movie, Pinocchio? Disney, who adapted the film from the original book written by Carlo Colludi in 1883, turned this adorable wooden puppet, who became a real boy, into a household name. Today, in every city all over Italy, Pinocchio memorabilia from key chains to small hand-held puppets abound, reminding us that Pinocchio is a product of Italy, just like olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Photo by Karen Henderson

The Pinocchios above, as lovingly created as was the original Pinocchio, by the kindly old wood carver Geppetto, are the handiwork of a modern day Geppetto whose workshop is tucked away in a little known part of the district of Cannaregio in Venice.

Once inside the door of Roberto Comin’s studio, you instantly realize you are in a magical world that could only have been created by someone very special – someone part artist, part magician.

On a visit with Comin, you will learn his creative process where he develops a “look”, and a personality for each character as well as his methods for carving each wooden piece by hand and sculpting the head. It’s a labor of love that you cannot help but recognize as Comin shares his life’s work.

Photo by Karen Henderson

Just as Geppetto adored his little Pinocchio, Maestro Roberto Comin loves each of his puppets. As he takes them down off a rack to demonstrate how to maneuver the strings to make them walk, or move their hands, or nod their head, he makes these wooden figures come alive for you. Comin himself seems to come even more alive as he adds dialogue to the movements of the puppet during his demonstrations. You are helplessly drawn into this fantastical little world and love every second you get to share with Comin.

Photo by Karen Henderson

Costumes for each marionette are handmade by Roberto’s sister Manuella, a professional tailor and costumer of Carnevale costumes. Each costume, in minute and perfect detail, enriches the characterization Comin creates for every unique puppet.

Photo by Karen HendersonPhoto by Karen Henderson

The family run operation, in business for over 30 years, creates about 8-10 marionettes each month. Special orders and custom creations are possible. Comin’s marionettes are available for sale in several boutique shops around Venice as well as on Comin’s website www.marionettesinVenice.com.

photo by Karen Henderson

It isn’t often you come across someone who loves their work as much as Roberto Comin does. He is as proud of each of his creations as the original Geppetto was of his Pinocchio. This is evident as he beams with joy while sharing his passion and life’s work with you.

On the website, Roberto extends a warm invitation to come visit him at his studio if you are in Venice. Meeting the artist and visiting his studio to see his work up close is an experience you will treasure.

L’Isola di Pinocchio, Cannaregio 2417, Venezia 30132 phone +39 041 524 5279

–Karen Henderson
Karen Henderson and her husband Michael moved to Venice in 2008 to escape the rat race of their hectic American careers. Karen blogs about their transition to expat life and their daily adventures in Venice on her blog, The Venice Experience.

Concierge tip: Combine a visit to the above Venetian treasure trove with a series of exclusive experiences by Baglioni Hotels and Dream & Charme, including tea with the countess, a private tour of the Doge’s palace, a cruise with the Venetian Galleon and more.

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