It is not an exaggeration to say that the Ex Chiesa di Santa Chaira was nothing more than a facade concealing a pile of bricks when we acquired it in 2012. Though some parts of the building were still standing, the roof of the sanctuary had completely collapsed between the crumbling walls. To enter the property, we had to scramble over a pile of rubble containing bricks, roof tiles, beams and, yes, also hunks of glass. And there we stood "inside" the church, barely even surrounded by walls. Even attempting to restore this space seemed an impossibly immense undertaking. Yet we were so inspired here - the remnants of painted walls spoke of a glorious past, the sculpted angels were still visible beneath the grime coating the doorway, and the location in the very heart of Murano had so much potential- that we couldn't help ourselves. We had a vision. And, there was someone in our family who knew about restorations…
Read More about the restoration project
Ion "Cafi" Cafadaru is the son-in-law/ brother-in-law of Giovanni and Giuseppe Belluardo, the owners of the Ex Chiesa di Santa Chaira, and the owner of Arte Restauri, a firm specialized in restorations. If you ask Cafi about his background, he might claim that it is too unusual to explain. There are not too many engineer - economist - licensed restorationists - who also have several years of experience working with glass in this world. But, Cafi is all of that and more. A student of electro-mechanics and economics, Cafi was a partner in a firm specialized in stained-glass overlays for several years before moving to Italy from his home country of Romania. Once here, Cafi turned his attentions to studying restorations.
Over the past four years, with input from architects and historical experts, Cafi has painstakingly directed the restoration of the Ex Chiesa di Santa Chaira. With his team of workmen never exceeding six people, let there be no doubt that many of the bricks and beams now supporting this magnificent space were placed there by Cafi's own hands. Meanwhile, our magnificent display cases and the workspaces within the church that now stand ready to host many of Murano's best glass masters, are all the fruit of Cafi's artistic imagination and skillful construction.
Words could never convey the massive professional accomplishment of the completed restoration of the Ex Chiesa di Santa Chiara. Between the combined labors of Giovanni, Giuseppe and Cafi, a maze of regulations, permits and licenses has been navigated, a gorgeous collection of Murano glass has been amassed, and one of the most historic buildings on the Island of Murano has been resurrected. Here's a look at what we've been doing at the Ex Chiesa di Santa Chiara over the past four years.
In 2012, the Ex Chiesa di Santa Chiara Lay in Ruin...
Timeline of the restoration: