Sunday, March 21, 2010

Wrapping Up - Murano and Burano

Master glassblower at a Murano glass factory and showroom

I could have spent a week exploring Venice, but there are many other islands that have much to see as well.  Our group took a water bus to two famous island communities, Murano and Burano.

I remember when my grandparents went to Italy, back when I was in college.  They brought back a pretty pair of cameo earrings that I still treasure, and some art glass that didn't appeal to me as much.  The glass came from Murano, an island in the Venetian lagoon, where all the glassblowers were sent to prevent fires, and to preserve their technology secrets.  Murano is home to several glass factories and museums, where they make everything from paperweights, to chandeliers, to large art glass sculptures.  We visited one factory and were treated to a demonstration of glassblowing.

It was a cold and blustery Sunday, but the friendly patter of these artisans and the roaring kilns, warmed both body and soul.  I think they imagined we would be shipping home large purchases of art glass or hand-blown glassware, but the group headed for the souvenir shop after a serious case of sticker shock.  I bought a millefiori paper weight, and was well satisfied.

After Murano we re-boarded the water bus and headed to the fishing village of Burano, on another island in the lagoon.  Burano is famous for two things, picturesque houses painted in bright colors, and an ancient tradition of lace making.  The group had an hour or so to wander around, perhaps do some shopping or get something hot to drink.  One shop in particular had a lace showroom with beautiful clothing and lace table linens.  We were told that the fine hand work here was very famous, and that two or three woman could work more than a year to produce one large table cloth.

Upstairs in the shop was a little museum with old photographs and examples of lace work, including the restored wedding dress seen here.

After visiting Burano, we headed back to Venice.  Dick and I spent the afternoon finding some lunch, and wandering the winding streets of the city.  In the evening we had a farewell dinner for the whole group at the hotel, and then we all returned to pack for home.  We had to leave the hotels at 5:00 am in order to get to the airport, fly to Rome, transfer to our Alitalia flight, and return to Chicago.  I don't remember much about that morning except the water taxi ride on the chilly and moonlit Grand Canal; it was like a dream.

It was a wonderful trip, exhausting, exhilarating, as travel is.  The people were congenial, the guides well informed and kind, the food and scenery outstanding, and I have enough photos from which to sketch and paint to keep me busy for ages.

The question here in Janesville is, now that we have had time to get over our jet lag and look at the photos better, where to next?

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