Venice…this will mark our 4th visit and as old as Venice is, it has yet to be old to us. Even though we decide (for purely selfish reasons) to take a taxi to the Verona train station, then the train to Venice and then get an all day vaparetto pass (public water bus), it is worth it. The drive from our hotel would be a minimum of an hour (after we get through Verona morning rush hour traffic) and we would then have to pay to park the car near Venice and still take the vaparetto in. Not worth the hassle and gas expense.
We arrive without incident and immediately decide that our water bus should first be one taking us to Murano…the island that made Venetian glass famous the world-over. About a half hour across the Grand Canal and out to the island leaves us at the pier. An easy walk along one side (being swayed by desire to see glass blowing in action) leads us to a small factory. We stand with about 50 others watching as 3 men, each with their own specific job, work a glass bubble from furnace to anvil, back to furnace. Then over to another anvil where one of the 3 stretches the glass forming the basics of a tumbler. Another of the 3 then takes a glass bubble of a different color, holds it for the first man who stretches it, cuts it and then wraps it around the glass tumbler and molds the 2 pieces into 1. And now, with a bit more skilful manipulation, there is the color-striped tumbler before our eyes, waiting to be placing in the cooling chamber where it will sit until its temperature is substantially subdued. Interesting to be sure, but in no way truly reflective of the finesse and workmanship that go into finished products that have yet to reveal themselves.
Ok…it’s not crystal (think Lalique) but I think (personal opinion) you would be hard pressed to find glass blown and fabricated as intricately as they do in Murano. From the tiniest players forming a full orchestra to clear solid bubbles containing an aquarium of colored fish, from chandeliers of ornate majesty to replicas of famous artifacts, they are all here. Full color glorifies some while others show their splendor in simple, untinged clarity. Opulence reeks from some that could only find their home in the foyer of a 25,000 sq. ft. mansion. Others display their elegance through their under-stated forms and limited coloration. Eyes open wider with each step and at times the jaw gets in the way of the big toe.
Several stores have in-house practitioners ready to advertise their skills with made-to-order novelties that represent a more personal gift for loved-ones back home. Your wallet and transport needs are the only limitations. Imagination and craftsmanship are here in spades.
The morning now gone and the afternoon entered we head back to Venice. Another vaparetto with our destination now being San Marco Square. Arguably one of the most popular and well-known locales on the island of Venice, it displays thousands of people to the many cruise ships that enter and leave directly in front of it. Having been on both an entrance and exit by cruise ship, the float past this spot is nothing short of fabulous, especially when you’re looking down from one of the highest points in Venice.
It is late in October and today there is only 1 cruise ship in port. But there is no shortage of people. The clear skies, warm sun and little wind bring an abundance of wanderers. Walking about is the only mode of travel as the transportation streets and avenues are all made of water. Hundreds of bridges of varying heights traverse them all each allowing the public egress to the shops, restaurants, and service industries that huddle beside one another.
The most famous of these bridges is the Rialto Bridge. It is one of four bridges in the world that has shops on both sides (Putney Bridge in Bath, England; Krämerbrücke Bridge in Erfurt, Germany; Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy are the other 3). It also has a walkway on either edge-side of the bridge allowing an unobstructed view of the canal (with the shops lane running down the middle of the bridge). If you need to buy tourist trinkets, this is a market built for you. Personally I would suggest walking it to say you did and see what all the fuss is about then spend your money in stores of higher calibre…but that’s just me.
The rest of the day was spent revisiting old haunts and ferreting out new ones. Now night descends and we finally get to see Venice after dark. Our previous visits have been solely during the light of day and the beams that begin to pop out show yet another panorama of Venice. New photo ops present themselves to be taken advantage of as quickly as possible.
After dinner we make our way back to the train station and patiently wait for our ride to arrive. A routine trip back to the middle of Verona, a short cab ride back to our hotel and updates to perform.
Tomorrow we will be introduced to the mysteries of Balsamic Vinegar. Could be an expensive day.