Battiloro: Story of a Golden Leaf
A family in Venice keeps alive the ancient craft of gold beating, rethinking the future through innovative projects.
In the twenty-first century, being born in a family of craftsmen and living in a dreamy city such as Venice, in someone’s eyes may seem the weirdest thing. And choosing to learn your father’s profession in order to preserve the artisanal heritage must not be the easiest decision. Yet, the young Eleonora, who’s working with her family in Mario Berta Battiloro’s factory since 2002, doesn’t seem to regret her choice.
In Battiloro’s lab, gold bars are turned into paper-thin leaves according to an ancient technique imported from Byzantium more than a thousand years ago. The leaves, made of pure gold and shaped in different forms, are traditionally used by artists such as mosaic makers, glaziers, bead makers, painters, sculptors, gilders, restorers, iconographers and calligraphers. As a matter of fact, they were utilized to gild pieces such as the angel on St. Mark’s bell tower, the Madonna in Milan’s Cathedral or the cross in the Sanctuary of Lourdes.
Eleonora and her sister Sara grew up watching their father Marino Menegazzo hammering gold, and quickly realized that the job is not just a matter of strength, but takes skill, coordination, passion and imagination, “till the leaf opens like a flower”. It took them years of observation and practice to master all the phases of the delicate process that turns a bar into a 0,3 mm impalpable veil.
Now, counting on the knowledge gained through parents and ancestors, the young generation is ready for a step forward.
In the last few years, Battiloro started to produce edible gold and gold for cosmetic use. The former, prepared with 24 Kt raw material and according to proper food certifications, is largely used by gourmet chefs and barmen to decorate dishes and cocktails. Caffe’ Florian, for instance, created a dark based drink topped by golden hair, while Davide Bisetto at the Cipriani restaurant and Gavina Cuccu from Zona d’Ombra, in Jesolo, have been using it to decorate some of their plates. Shamira Gatta, in her food and travel blog Lovelycake, loves to add the precious ingredient to many of her creative recipes.
More recently, the shining material has been employed to produce an anti-aging mask, as it looks like gold is an antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties. At The Merchant of Venice luxury Spa, in San Clemente Kempinski palace, is currently possible to enjoy a full treatment, preceded and followed by proper massages. Eyeshadow and nail polish are included in the cosmetic line.
But the last innovative product, as per Eleonora’s idea, is the temporary jewel, made from 24 Kt gold or silver. Artists and designers are invited to take part of a contest with their drawings; artisans, using the golden leaf, will turn the winning sketches into temporary bracelets, ankles, necklaces and other ornaments. Born under the name Caveau Royal, the project aims to protect and promote Italian manufacturing, highlighting the artists’ work.
Have a Glass in Venice is proud to involve Battiloro’s lab into its urban tours through the artisan workshops of the enchanting lagoon city.
For more info visit: http://www.berta-battiloro.com/en/
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