The World’s Last Goldbeater Really, Really Wants to Retire

Aug 03, 2020 245

Every day since he was 22 years old, Marino Menegazzo has woken up, headed to his workshop, picked up an eight-kilo mallet, and relentlessly beaten thick blocks of gold with it. For two hours, he administers around 30,000 blows to the precious metal, until it’s flattened into a barely-there piece of foil weighing just 0.002 grams–200 times thinner than human hair.

It’s thankless work, which is why no one does it anymore: Marino, now 66 years old, is the last goldbeater in the world. This long-dying craft was once a common profession in Venice; at its peak, there were 340 gold beaters in the city. Now it’s just Marino, who works from his historic workshop in the Cannaregio district with his business partners: twin daughters, Eleonora and Sara, and wife, Sabrina.

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