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Fun, Fashion, Art and Education Unite in Venezia H20 Featured

Family values raise awareness of Venice’s unique lagoon ecosystem.

by Cat Bauer

How often do you stumble upon the actual owners of a major international brand at a local family event? Il Gufo, the Italian luxury fashion designer for kids, was on the scene at the Naval Historical Museum in Venice for the first of six enlightening watery adventures for the Family Card members of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.

The museum’s H2O Venezia Family Card calendar from October until May is a creative collaboration between art, science, fashion and passion. This is the second year that Il Gufo, which is based in Asolo in the Veneto Region, has supported the Family Card. Their spring/summer 2019 fashion collection is dedicated to water and the sea, inspired by Jacques Cousteau’s message: “Knowing your planet is a step towards protecting it.”

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Enter Jane Da Mosto, an environmental scientist who heads the non-profit We Are Here Venice, a think tank and activist platform dedicated to preserving the lagoon and addressing the challenges of Venice as a living city. “Venice and the lagoon are a single system. You can’t have one without the other.” Jane, who is a mother of four and whose husband’s roots stretch back to fifth-century Venice, has a deep sense of history and designed the six events that take families on a journey to discover how a city entirely built on water must adapt to nature to survive.

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Giovanna Miletti herself, the matriarch of Il Gufo, joined the fun at the Naval Museum, together with her son and daughter, Guido and Alessandra Chiavelli, as well as three of her four grandsons. When her three kids were young, in her free time Giovanna created small items like bibs, crib sheets and vests, which were such a hit that her friends and the community demanded more. As her pastime grew into a real business, she hired local women to help, working mostly at night after the kids went to bed, earning the name “Il Gufo” -- The Owl.  Il Gufo has exploded into an international luxury brand, yet Giovanna still designs the clothes as if they were for her own children, who are now are an essential part of the company.

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At the Naval Museum, shipbuilder Nicolò Zen delighted the families with tales of Venetian boats, the ancient ships towering in the background. The kids used bright crayons to color paper models, then had the thrill of rowing classic boats in the basin of the Arsenal. Future events include a visit to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection; the Forecast and Tides Reporting Center; the Museum of Natural History; the outdoor installation “Laguna Viva” at the VAC Foundation followed by a trip to the island of Lazzaretto Nuovo; and a visit to the State Archives. At the core of the entire H2O Venezia program is how Venice interacts with water and the lagoon. Il Gufo’s Alessandra Chiavelli said, “In today’s digital world, it is important that kids also experience reality.”

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Peggy Guggenheim mothered many famous artists, helping to establish their careers and bring enduring works of art to life. Il Gufo fashion was born from a mother creating clothes for her own kids. We Are Here Venice was formed by a mother and scientist to protect her city for her children and the residents of Venice. Perhaps the deep maternal knowledge of women can help us understand the vital needs of Mother Nature.  


For more ideas on Do, Dine and Spend in Venice and beyond, visit our Destinations page.