Mask Making in Venice

Venetian masks are world famous and a symbol and tradition of Venice. There is no avoiding them when in the city, as every street vendor and souvenir shop carries multiple versions, from the cheapest mass production piece, to the more expensive, unique and handcrafted version. Nowadays, masks are mainly worn during carnival. However, as long as the Venetian Serenissima Republic lasted, until 1797, they were part of the everyday Venetian life. During those days, Venetian nobles put on the masks to be whoever they wanted to be and turn their life into and aventure, gamble, and add a little bit of spice and risk to the everyday life.


A few of today’s mask artisans open their workshop doors and offer classes. They can range from the actual making of the mask with paper mache, to learning the decoration techniques used. It is a wonderful experience for both old and young.

I wanted to do something special, memorable and had setup such workshop for my children and myself. We had picked a small mask making shop owned by Giorgio Galasso who has been making masks for the past 20 years.

Arriving at his shop is like stepping back in time. Instructions say find the San Zulian church, follow the wall, turn into a small square, and there you are. No street name, number, and most definitely not a place Google Maps knows how to find.


The artist’s workshop is tiny and although Giorgo says he accommodates up to 5 people in the summer, it seems like 3 are plenty. Giorgio is an older man, long black grey hair, the features of his face almost like a mask. He wears a black framed set of reading glasses, and you immediately feel like you are working with someone who truly knows his craft.


In broken English he explains that before you start, you have to make a plan. You start with a vision of your mask which you then complete in several steps. He works with my two children, aged 10 and 12, as well as myself, and easily succeeds in making us feel confident in our abilities. We spend a good hour decorating our masks, learning about the different techniques, and materials used. One of my daughters works in the window and becomes the attraction for many passersby, who oftentimes end up entering the small shop, and buying one of Girogio’s masks.





Once done the masks have to stay in the shop for about an hour to dry. We head for lunch and pick them up on our way back to the hotel.


We were truly pleased with the result. It is a unique and memorable souvenir to take home from Venice. The masks will always remind us of  the experience which is one we will never forget.

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Stefanie Pichonnat is the owner and travel consultant at AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm customizing travel itineraries for discerning customers. With her extensive travel experience in Italy she can help you create a wonderful trip. Contact her at



My “Daily Burn” or how to stay fit even when you travel

Everybody is busy. Oftentimes so much that we don’t have time to take care of ourselves. So for once this isn’t about a destination, it is about making you feel good – always, before you travel, or during your travels.

As a business owner, single mom and frequent traveler, my days feel busy and my schedule is unpredictable. Going to a gym, or joining  a fitness class, is more of a hassle than a benefit, simply because it steals way too much of my time and I am not always sure I can make it. However, that all changed about a year ago, when I discovered Daily Burn.

dailyburn, workout, fitness, travel, on the goDaily Burn is your stream of customized workouts. I am sure you are familiar with Netflix or Hulu. This is kind of similar. You create an account, log in your basic health stats, choose a fitness level and then get to select a workout program that fits you and your personality. The beauty of it is that you can exercise at any time, wherever you want. Whether you stream it on your tv, use a tablet, or, heck, even on your phone. It is crazy convenient!
dailyburn, program, workout, fitnessYou can even take it on the road. Daily Burn streams pretty much anywhere around the globe, provided you have a good wifi connection. China and Russia are exceptions and there might be some others. Granted, you might not be up for a 50 minute workout everyday you travel, but there are always shorter workouts available. They allow you to keep your fitness level up whilst being away.

Or, let’s just say your significant other planned one of these spontaneous beach getaways and you feel your body is not quite up for the beach parade. And yes, I actually have clients that told me exactly that. There are plenty of short and very efficient programs that make you see changes in as little as three weeks provided you follow them.

In addition to your workout, Daily Burn also offers meal plans and recipes to go with your program. So if you are really serious about this, you have every tool to take it to the next level.

daily burn, workout, fitnessDaily Burn offers a free month trial before you commit. If you are busy and are looking for something that will help you keep fit, then this might just be the answer. However, these are a few things I think will influence your success:

  • Daily Burn means working out on your own. If you need a group of people to motivate you, cheer you on, or keep you accountable, you might struggle with this concept.
  • Make sure to be safe and execute the exercises properly. If in doubt, schedule an appointment with a fitness instructor so they can show you how to properly exercise.
  • Every Daily Burn exercise ends with a cool down but those are usually short. If you work your body hard, don’t forget to take some extra time and stretch.

Daily Burn has allowed me to stay healthy and fit without having to compromise my schedule or making me say “I don’t have time to work out”. I am super excited to try it on the road this summer, from Alaska to the Dominican Republic and on to Europe, I will be able to stream my program and get my workout in. It is much easier and more fun to travel when you feel healthy and fit!

Have you tried Daily Burn? How do you feel about it? I would love to hear your comments.

Avid daily burner and owner of AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm specialized in creating and customizing personalized travel itineraries. You can contact her at

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