Sunday, February 8, 2009

Arcobaleno - A Rainbow in Venice

(Venice, Italy) Li Hwei-Fang, the adorable owner of Arcobaleno, or "Rainbow," arrived in Venice more than twenty years ago from Taiwan. After graduating with a degree in economics from a university in Japan, her mother told she needed to learn another language. Li Hwei (pronounced "Lee-Way") had a sister in Italy, so off she trotted to learn Italian. She landed in Venice, decided to stay, and opened her shop full of rainbow-colored jewelry.

Sound easy? Well, it's not. Back then, Venice had more stringent regulations for shop licenses, and Li Hwei had to rapidly learn Italian to pass the examination. Also, in the 1980s, it was unusual for a single Asian woman to open her own business -- in fact, it's not that easy for a single woman of any nationality to open a business these days, either! But Venice has embraced her and her delightful little shop, filled with seimprecious stones, gold and silver imported from all over the world.

Another treat -- Li Hwei also imports handmade Japanese dolls. I've loved Japanese dolls since I was a child. I have a vivid memory of standing in front of my kindergarten class during Show & Tell describing the Japanese dolls my uncle brought back from Korea when he was stationed over there, so to see them again after so many years was like reliving a happy childhood moment.

Arcobaleno is located close to the Rialto Bridge on the main drag, Calle dei Spezieri, close to the fish market. Li Hwei is great company, so there is always someone dropping by, just for a chat. She creates all the necklaces, bracelets and earrings herself, so each piece is unique. Handmade jade from Burma, amber from Estonia, and red coral from Sardinia are just a few of the elegant offerings.

Ciao from Venice,

Li Hwei-Fang
Calle dei Spezieri 375
Venice, Italy
Tel. & Fax: +39 041-528-7164

This blog was made possible by the generous support of Nelly Wolthers, Dutch superwoman and fan of Li Hwei's work.