Sunday, April 12, 2015

A New Source of Magic in Venice

One of Mistero e Magia's two proprietors, Alberto De Curti, performs a trick for a young visitor from France
Venice has long been considered a mysterious and magical place, but only since the March 28 opening of Mistero e Magia has it had its own magic store: the first ever in the city's history. 

Located on Ruga Giuffa, the narrow picturesque commercial calle that branches off of Campo Santa Maria Formosa in the direction of Campo San Zaccaria, the store not only stocks everything a budding magician might need, but if you're looking for juggling supplies of all kinds, face paints and clown gear, or a wide range of wands with which to produce soap bubbles in sizes ranging from the divertingly domestic to the elephantine, you need look no further.

What especially sets it off, though, is its staff. Mistero e Magia is not just a place where magic supplies are sold, but where magic is actually performed--and taught. Sandro and I happened upon the store by accident a couple of Saturdays ago and he was thrilled when one of the staff started showing him some tricks.

I know absolutely nothing about magic and, aside from a couple of brief performances at birthday parties he'd attended, Sandro had not seen much of it. But the staff, both the first day we wandered in and on subsequent visits, is great with kids (and adults): patient and informative, intent on educating, rather than merely selling.

The store has become Sandro's favorite after-school destination. The last time we were in, I talked to one of the store's proprietors, Alberto De Curti (Daniele Malusa is the other), and watched as he demonstrated various tricks to various kids: first, in Italian, then in English, then in French. De Curti told me that beyond the impromptu education they're happy to do in the course of normal business hours, the store also offers workshops for both kids and adults taught by professional magicians, suitable for both full-time residents of Venice and those who are only in town for a few days. 

For example, Aroldo Lattarulo will teach a course on April 26, and later in the spring the well-known American illusionist Vito Lupo will offer his own workshop. To learn more about the store and its offerings, you can visit their Facebook page: Mistero e Magia Facebook Page

Residents of Venice are all-too-familiar with the sight of neighborhood stores going out of business. It's much rarer to see a store that opens with the aim of becoming a destination for the city's young (the last time we were in Mistero e Magia there was a group of local guys in their later teens who'd come in to talk magic with one of the store's staff).

Mistero e Magia also happens to be a great destination for tourists and visitors to the city: an excellent break, for example, from the usual sight-seeing for a visiting kid (or adult) worn out and foot-sore from too much legendary old art and architecture.

It's the kind of magical enterprise the city could use more of, and it will likely require the patronage of both residents and visitors to stay afloat. It's worth a visit--or many.

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