Italy 2012, continued: November 2, 2012
We leave from the Fondamente Nova vaparetto stop, which is on the backside of the main islands, and head straight out past Venice’s cemetery, on an island all its own. First stop is Murano (glass making) with our final destination for the day Burano (lace making).
We join the throngs of other tourists, load up (we race to the back to get an outdoor seat) and head out past the cemetery, on its own island.
We’d first been to Burano in 2007, when on a tour with our friends to Murano, then Burano. But the tour guide was in cahoots with the glass-making people and we spent an inordinate amount of time captive in the glass maker’s shop, and only 20 minutes on Burano. We wanted to reverse that today.
Deliveries–everything’s by boat.
We approach Murano and its “furnaces,” or fornaio. Each building is a different glass maker. Murano also is a series of islands like Venice, albeit a smaller cluster. They also make lace here on Murano, a dying art, as it’s time-intensive and the best kind is done by hand.
We are going on to Burano, a fishing village, or so the story goes.
We land in Burano, and everyone gets off the boat. Most head straight ahead, but at our first opportunity, we take a left, away from the crowds. When we were here before, we were captivated by the colorful houses–technicolor, brilliantly painted houses. The tour guide that time told us that it was a way for the fishermen to find their way back home in the fog, since there has been fishing there since the 6th century. But now Wikipedia notes that “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.”
Whatever the original reason, the houses are like being in another world. This post is mostly just pictures of these houses, as there’s really nothing I know about them. I could tell you someone famous lives here or there (and they probably do), but if I’d known that would it have changed how we interacted with this amazing colorful island? I think not. So, scroll, quickly or slowly, and enjoy the houses of Burano.
Now, doesn’t it make you want to head to Home Depot and repaint your house? We were saved from that urge by the fact that we’d done it last year. Around every corner was a new sight, a new color. We saw the young man on his scooter, and Dave helped two lost Asian tourists who were trying to find their way to the vaparetto. We wanted to get lost, so were relieved not to see crowds.
A young couple walked by and we snagged them for our Christmas card photo. Believe me, I was dying to digitally erase those white dots, but I restrained myself. If I had really thought I would put this on our Christmas card, I might have put on some lipstick or something. Dave always looks good.
We cross over the bridge and down the other side is a woman who is working on making lace by hand. I’m sure this piece will sell for thousands in the shops. We avoided the shops because, after reading Brunetti, we’ve learned that most of the lace goods come from Asia. I would have loved to have taken a completed piece of real Burano lace home with me, but I’ll have to be content with this photo.
I also liked this one–these colors were magnificent. We were really glad it was a bright sunny day, for although we got shots of people’s laundry (including those black undies near the fuse box in the photos above), the sun lit up the houses like they were illuminated from within.
It was now late afternoon, and the Tourist Crankies were setting in because we hadn’t eaten since breakfast and regretfully forgotten our Emergency Granola Bars back in the hotel. We were approaching the main town area and looked at several restaurants but then reconsidered because we wanted to beat the crush back to Venice so we could enjoy our last evening there. We’d had such a lovely time by ourselves photographing the colorful houses, that we decided just to head for Venice. There was a crush at the vaparetto stop, but we were early, so did get a seat on the way home. I found one granola bar in the bottom of my backpack and we shared that, then we both dozed on the way home, awoken when a rogue wave splashed in through the vaparetto windows, drenching the couple next to me. I didn’t get wet at all.
Then there was this curious sculpture placed out in the lagoon as we neared Venice. The only thing I could find about it (in English) was that it was a representation of a poor fisherman saving Venice through the appearance of celestial visitors. Or something.
We refresh, but since we are still hungry, we head out, turning right onto the main drag up through Cannaregio, kind of like we are following their line of red dots (which is direction to Ca’ D’oro vaparetto stop, but in the same direction as we are headed). Strada Nova is crowded, with shops still vending and people still shopping, a real party and lively atmosphere. We stop to buy some chocolates to take back with us and some torrone (but it’s not as good as the one by San Zaccharia).
Out front there’s a guy out front in a spiffy suit, hawking to tourists — hawking to people just like us, who are tired and hungry and ready to eat even though it’s not even six o’clock in the evening and a real Venetian wouldn’t be caught dead sitting down to dinner. Of course there was the chalkboard with the requisite three courses, the menu with the six languages. We shrug and say, why not. It was a good choice.
Dave had pasta with cheese, which looked like to me it was leftover spaghetti pressed into a mold, then cut and lightly baked, then broiled (?). I think this is a good idea, especially if grilled vegetables are added to the plate, then a drizzle of vinegar.
He tried to offer us an after-dinner drink again, but again, we declined. No dessert? He asked? No, I said. I prefer to have some chocolate.
We really enjoyed talking to the owner, as we were the only ones in the restaurant for most of the meal. He grew up in Venice, but after marrying, moved to Maestre, but still runs the family business. We talked about the aqua alta (he was in early that morning, sweeping out, vacuuming, washing down our tables and chairs), as this was his livelihood. I’d go there again in a heartbeat, as the food was delicious (and the owner spoke English). He said he moved out to Maestre because it was really hard to raise a family in Venice–not even a place to play soccer. We say goodbye, but are not ready to say goodbye to Venice yet, so we hop onto a vaparetto and ride down the Grand Canal.
This is when you know you are really on the Outside, Looking In. It’s when you see a building on the Grand Canal all lit up in exotic red, with boats of the glitterati stepping up onto the private loading dock and entering this building. It looked fabulous to all of us peons on the vaparetto. Even the drivers were pointing at it.
We get off at San Zaccharia, buy our last wedge of torrone to take home, then walk slowly back to our hotel through the streets, and the happy tourists, and the business-like Venetians, back through the chilled air, Dave and I together in Venice for one last night.
Coming up: one more post before we say good-bye to Italy.