September 15, 2012

Island Hopping in the Veneto

Today we woke up to beautiful sunshine - the perfect day to visit the islands of Murano (known for their glass factories) and Burano (famous for "Burano" lace). We had to take several vaporetto's to get to Murano, but the scenery along the way was fantastic. It was also going to be a busy day in the Veneto given the size of the cruise ships that we passed entering the Guidecca canal.

Over the last 15 years, Venice has become one of the world’s most important cruise destinations, the port serving as a lucrative turnaround point for 650 cruises a year - up to nine a day in high season. Since 1997, the number of passengers cruising through Venice has risen from 280,000 to 1.8 million last year.

Murano is a series of islands linked by bridges in the Venetian Lagoon, and is famous for its glass making, particularly lampworking. Murano’s reputation as a center for glassmaking was born when the Venetian Republic, fearing fire and the destruction of the city’s mostly wooden buildings, ordered glassmakers to move their foundries to Murano in 1291. Murano glass is still associated with Venetian glass.

Murano's glassmakers were soon numbered among the island’s most prominent citizens. By the 14th century, glassmakers were allowed to wear swords, enjoyed immunity from prosecution by the Venetian state, and found their daughters married into Venice’s most affluent families. While benefiting from certain statutory privileges, glassmakers were forbidden to leave the Republic. However, many of them took the risks associated with migration and established glass furnaces in surrounding cities and farther afield - sometimes in England and the Netherlands.

Murano’s glassmakers held a monopoly on high-quality glassmaking for centuries, developing or refining many technologies including crystalline glass, enameled glass (smalto), glass with threads of gold (aventurine), multicolored glass (millefiori), milk glass (lattimo), and imitation gemstones made of glass. Today, the artisans of Murano still employ these centuries-old techniques, crafting everything from contemporary art glass and glass jewelry to Murano glass chandeliers and wine stoppers.

Some of the companies that own historical glass factories in Murano are among the most important brands of glass in the world. These companies include Venini, Ferro Murano, Barovier & Toso, Simone Cenedese and Seguso. Today, to protect the original Murano Glass art from foreign markets, the most famous Glass Factories of this island have a Trade mark that certifies products in glass made in the island of Murano. The oldest Murano glass factory that is still active today is that of Pauly & C. – Compagnia Venezia Murano, founded in 1866.

After a short visit on Murano, we boarded the vaporetto again towards the island of Burano. In addition to lacemaking, Burano is also known for its small, brightly-painted houses, popular with artists. The colours of the houses follow a specific system originating from the golden age of its development; if someone wishes to paint their home, one must send a request to the government, who will respond by making notice of the certain colours permitted for that lot.

Although I enjoyed our visit to Murano, I fell in love with Burano. I know it's kind of touristy, filled with lots of "sourvenir" shops, but I loved the charm of it.


I can see how artists love Burano. Although I wouldn't consider myself a true artist, I could envision painting many of the scenes I saw here. Today was one of those days where I wished I knew how to take really awesome photographs. We had a great time just wandering down all of the side canals taking photos, enjoying a nice, relaxing lunch and doing some souvenir shopping. I purchased a "super cute" (trademark Olive) Anthropoligie-inspired lace top and a nice cotton and lace scarf.

Although there's certainly a variety of things to eat for lunch, we've all eaten pizza three days in a row! I have to laugh at Dad and Sean though; both of them have ordered the "Diablo" pizza three days in a row, even though most of the restaurant menu's we've had offered more than 12 or 14 varieties of pizza. Today I'm going to force them to try something different - lol.

It was late afternoon by the time we left Burano. Thanks to April, we took the "scenic" route back to our apartment. I'm pretty sure we cruised to Spain and back by the time we arrived. Apparently we're also becoming used to the "Italian ways" as we were told by some Englishman queued up with us at the vaporetto dock that we were "behaving like Italians" by pushing our way towards the front of the queue. In our defense, nobody was standing up there, so we took up the space (plus, we wanted to make sure that Dad and Joan were able to secure seats on the vaporetto, which are in limited supply). So yes, I might have been behaving like an "Italian" which just might be better than behaving like "an Ugy American".
Sean and I left the rest of the group near our apartment to stop at the market for some dinner supplies. When we arrived back at the apartment, April, Dad and Joan were sitting on the balcony enjoying "happy hour." They were happy to receive the olives I purchased and my Dad wasn't sure what to do with the pits, so the first olive pit he pitched off the side of the balcony. April says "Dad!" Dad smiled, then sat the next olive pit on the edge of the balcony, then "swiped" it off. Seeing April's dismay, he says "I didn't throw it over, it fell off." The third pit (and I'm going to assume many others) he simply just "spat out" over the balcony. So instead of "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" we may have an "Olive Tree Grows in Venezia."
To end the day, we enjoyed a beautiful sunset from our apartment and I prepared a delicious dinner of Pasta Pomodoro with Shrimp, some fresh-baked bread (not by me, but by the Italians) and a bottle of Chianti. Perfecto!
I've added our "Venice Day 3" pictures to Shutterfly.

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