Isola di Murano

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April 30th 2015
Published: May 2nd 2015
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The forecast for today said that there was a zero percent chance of rain. Hmmn, on that basis we decided to go out without our raincoats for a quick pre-breakfast visit to the Piazza San Marco before the hordes arrive. Of course as soon as we reached the square it started to spit!! What a difference an hour makes though to the number of tourists that are around. Yesterday afternoon the piazza was a heaving mass of people, at 8.00am this morning it was just us and a handful of of other people. There was some professional photography going on at this hour of the day. One was a wedding shoot, the other involved a woman in a flowing red dress so it was probably a fashion shoot? The photographer's assistant had to keep throwing the frock's train in the air and then run out of shot so the photographer could shoot a photo capturing the train floating in mid-air. Very arty!!

Only slightly damp, we returned to the hotel for our breakfast after which we donned our raincoats for our planned trip to Murano. But, before setting off to Murano, we returned to Piazza San Marco to visit the basilica. Compared with some of the other churches that we have visited St Marks was very dark ... unless you counted all the flashes going off on peoples' cameras despite a request that there should be NO photos, videos or phones. I'm not comfortable photographing in churches anyway so a 'no photos' request doesn't bother me. Although Bernie does take (flashless) photos in churches, he is happy to comply with a 'no photos' request, but he was certainly in the minority observing the photography ban! We had to pay to go up to the basilica's terrace, but it was worth it to see the very interesting museum that was housed up there.

When we made our way to the vaporetto 'station' we were pleased to discover that the seasonal No. 7 Vaporetto service has commenced which made it super quick and easy to travel from San Marco Zaccaria to the island of Murano. We went out to Murano not so much to buy glassware as to see the glass makers at work. We are both fascinated by how a lump of molten glass can be turned into something amazing by a skilled artisan. When we arrived, there was a tout encouraging visitors to turn right from the vaporetto pontoon to visit a glass factory so we deliberately turned left. We rather distrustingly felt that we were being directed to a glass showroom where we would be subjected to the hard sell.

We wandered along the canal, popping in and out of glass showrooms that had plenty of glassware to sell but, rather disappointingly, no glass makers demonstrating their skills. Maybe we should have turned right after all? Having reached a time in our life when we want to stop accumulating stuff I was only looking for something really small to take home from Murano. Perhaps some glass earrings? After browsing in quite a few shops I found some earrings made with purple glass that I really liked. And they were only €10.00.

Eventually we entered a glass showroom that actually had a glass maker working in a tiny booth to the side of the shop. We watched him insert tiny fish into small glass balls to make the miniature 'fish bowls' that seem to be in every shop. After watching him work, we felt somewhat obliged to buy something in his store so purchased a small glass Christmas tree for €15.00. We can bring that out at Christmas time and display it with the crystal Christmas tree we bought in Prague!!

The sales assistant, who patiently helped us choose the right Christmas tree, told us we could watch glass makers making larger pieces at their factory at the end of the street. We walked to the end of the street where there was nothing but a rather derelict looking church. We doubled back and found that there was a glass maker along the street, just not at the end of the street? Not sure if it was the glass factory that we had been directed to, we popped in anyway ... just in time to see the end of a demonstration being put on for a group of students on a school excursion. Bugger!

We wandered a bit more and crossed to the other side of the canal where we found a restaurant for lunch. We thought that lunch would be outrageously expensive on Murano, but we were pleasantly surprised to be able to have a gnocchi pomodoro and a calamari fritti for only €18.00.

So, we went to Turkey in 2013 and we absolutely, positively were not going to buy a Turkish rug. However, Gidget the Golden Retriever now enjoys sleeping on the Turkish rug that we bought in Turkey!! We visited Murano and we were absolutely, positively not going to buy a vase. Hmmn, we walked into a shop after lunch and there was a damn vase that we both looked at and immediately took a fancy to!! We are now the proud owners of a glass vase made on Murano in the classic 'millefiori' (thousand flowers) style. Compared with pieces that we had been seeing on the other side of the canal, the vase seemed quite reasonably priced at €48.00. If money had been no object I would have liked to buy one of the glass 'aquariums', but a decent one of these would have set us back close to €1,000.00!! And, being a solid lump of glass at least as big as a football, it would have had to be shipped home.

Finally ... we walked down towards the Faro lighthouse and found some glass workers to watch. We stood and watched them for quite a while and managed to take a few photographs of them transforming molten sand into glassware. Although we did finally get to watch some glass makers at work, we didn't think they were as impressive as the glass workers that we saw in Mdina, Malta.

Having spent most of the day on Murano we abandoned the idea of visiting both Murano and Burano in one day. At least we couldn't be tempted to buy lacework that we don't need if we avoided visiting Burano! We caught the vaporetto back to San Marco Zaccaria just in time to see a ginormous cruise ship being tugged into port. That's gotta be another 5,000 tourists that will be in Venice for May Day!

We dropped our Murano purchases off at the hotel and then headed to the Correr Museum and the National Archeological Museum so that we could realise a bit more of the value on our Venice Passes. Thank goodness for summer opening hours until 7.00pm in the evening. In winter the museums close at 5.00pm which would have meant that we were all out of time to see these two museums housed in the building on the south side of St Mark's Square. Yesterday at the Doge's Palace there were signs up for visitors purchasing tickets and visitors entering using their Venice Pass. Easy! This afternoon we queued at the ticket office only to be told, after waiting for two lengthy ticket transactions before us, that we could walk straight in and our tickets would be scanned just around the corner.

What can I say about our visit to these museums? More Greek and Roman sculptures, more illuminated manuscripts, more tapestries, some incredible chandeliers and some amazing early globes featuring Terra Australis Incognita in the Southern Hemisphere. Thank goodness Captain Cook sorted that out and disproved the existence of a huge land mass in the Southern Hemisphere to 'balance' the continents in the Northern Hemisphere. Of course there are a couple of very important smaller land masses: Australia and New Zealand.

Gelato o'clock was late today because we didn't fit it in until after our visit to the museums! We ate our ice creams and then walked along the seafront in search of the leaning bell tower that we had spied from the vaporetto. Ha, ha, Pisa doesn't have a monopoly on leaning towers!!

We ate dinner far too close to the seafront tonight and got sucked into a very expensive fish dinner washed down with an actual bottle of wine rather than a couple of beers and a half litre carafe of the house red!! We shared the Venetian-style sardines - yes, again - and followed that with tiger fish accompanied by mixed seafood. It was delicious, but we've had meals that were much better value for our Euros.

Steps for the day 14,966 (10.19 km)

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2nd May 2015

hard to resist
Looks like an excellent side trip, am rather partial to Murano glass and have a couple of vintage pieces so I think I would find it very difficult to resist a purchase. Looking forward to seeing a photo of the purchase down the track if you have one.
4th May 2015

Beautiful Morano glass.
That Morano blue glass sculpture is 'magnifico'. Is it really outside in a courtyard? And Tracey, how COULD YOU ~ wrap up your Morano vase before taking a photo & sharing?? You'll have to have a 'show & tell' after you get home. Aren't you lucky with the weather? And to see St Mark's Square completely dry - and not flooded - allows for great photos plus you're not forced to walk on raised wooden platforms. I've seen many photos showing crowds struggling across a flooded St Mark's Square. Not a pretty sight. Thanks. Caroline
4th May 2015

Glass Sculpture
Hi Caroline, Yes the sculpture is outside which surprised me too. Maybe they have spare shards to replace them when they get broken? The vase was wrapped up very securely in the shop and I'm not game to open it now until we get it safely home. We were very lucky to have beautiful weather in Venice. Cheers, Tracey.

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