By Kay Caldwell
Personal highlight of this trip to Venice was walking through the door of a tiny shop in Calle Del Fumo (the Alley of Smoke) and stepping back several hundred years. Gianni Basso was trained in printing by Armenian monks on a Venetian Island and runs a printing business that uses pre-Industrial age letterpress machines. Everything is printed by hand, and three of the machines belonged to the Armenian monks.
Gianni’s way of doing business is equally pre-modern: no email, no website, no credit cards. You have to go in person to choose your font and your emblem and pay in cash. He walked me through countless alleyways and across piazzas to the nearest ATM, speaking all the time of the challenges of life in Venice. I don’t imagine my business card will appear in his window alongside Hugh Grant’s or Ben Affleck’s or Nobel Laureate Joseph Browsky’s, but I did order a box and have now committed myself to meeting 100 new people that I might want to give my details to. Very excited!