About Me

I am a 45 year husband and dad, currently adjusting to life back in the United States after living in Italy for a little over two years. I love spending time with my family, cycling, model railroading, mosaics and watching TV and movies.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Venice - Day 2

We woke up early this morning to get ready for the day. The Alloggi hotel serves a basic morning breakfast of croissants, rolls, tea, juice and caffe. It was a tasty beginning to our day.

It was chilly and overcast this morning. Katrina and Brandon put on their jackets. I unfortunately, did not bring a jacket and only brought lightweight short sleeve shirts. I would just have to suffer. I found this rather amusing after a recent discussion with my sister in law Laurie. She was in Venice several years ago and mentioned to me that Venice was one of the hottest places she had ever visited.

Today we would board a Vaporetto for Murano, the island of glass. We stepped out the door of the hotel and were immediately blasted with cold air blowing down the alley. It only got worse as we headed out to the perimeter. Once we arrived on the walkway along the perimeter the wind died down a bit. I think it was all being funneled down the narrow alley ways. We caught the Vaporetto for our 20 min ride to Murano.

Church located on San Michele

On the ride to Murano the boats pass San Michele, the cimitero (cemetary) of Venice. It is its own island. We did not stop there, but I think we will need to make a point of it if we visit Venice again. There are many famous and important Venetians buried there.

Murano is the largest island in the lagoon. It was inhabited in Roman times. In time the island became an important landing for ships in the Adriatic. It became a busy trade center. There were mills and salt mines. The island was important to Venice, which allowed it a certain amount of independence for a time. In 1291 the first glass furnaces were moved from Venice to Murano. Before long it became one of the worlds leading manufacturers of fine glasswork.

We arrived in Murano a little early. Most of the shops were not open or were just beginning to open. We strolled the fondamenta (walkways along a canal) looking in shop windows and enjoying the peacefulness of the town. We were in search of an open furnace demonstation and the glass museum. We found the museum and explored. It features examples of over 700 years of glasswork. Again, no pictures allowed inside.

Brandon took this picture of a hay bale made of glass. Every little piazza has an outdoor diplay of some sort.

Brandon and Katrina having fun with the cameras.

Another Murano piazza display.

We continued to wander around the island town. We eventually found out that most, if not all, of the glass furnaces were closed on Sunday. We really wanted to see a demonstration, so we decided we would have to return to the island on Monday or Tuesday.

We stopped for lunch at a bar on the canal. Brandon had toast, white bread with prociutto and formaggio. Katrina and I had piadinas.

The Church of Santi Maria E Donato was built in the 7th century and dedicated to Mary. The body of St Donatus was brought there from the island of Cephalonia. He was a warrior saint who had slain a dragon.

Brandon took this picture of a decorated boat as it made its way to the main canal. Apparently an annual rowing ragatta was being held today. Katrina found some information that said an estimated 200+ boats participate each year. Today must have been an interesting event due to the wind and waves.

You can see how important boats are to the residents of these islands.

Another interesting public glass sculpture.

We made our way towards the Vaporetto stop on the backside of the island to catch a ride to Burano.

The lighthouse of Murano.

On the way to Burano we spotted many partipants of the regatta paddling from Burano to Murano. The open water was very choppy. We spotted all sorts of boats making their way through the waves.

Not everyone was lucky enough to make it through the waves. They looked cold!

Brandon enjoyed standing along the rail on the Vaporettos.

A Vaporetto passing us as we head to Burano.

We passed this deserted home as we headed into the main canal at Burano.

Burano is the island of lace. The island was most likely inhabited already in Roman times. Refugees from Altino settled here in the the 5th century. It became of considerable importance to the Republic's economy when the lace industry began to flourish. The inland has about 4,000 inhabitants. The houses are almost all alike, on two floors, seperated from one another only by their bright colors.

Typical colorful homes in Burano.

Colorful alley in Burano.

We had picked up a 'Venice for Kids' book at the Correr Museo yesterday. It was full of all kinds of interesting information about the places we were visiting. It kept Brandon busy most of the time. He would read interesting tidbits of information to us through out the day.

One tip mentioned trying the bussollai, typical of the island of Burano. The package says, "The bussola buranello is the typical biscuit from the island of Burano, the 'pearl' of the Venetian lagoon...These biscuits date back to time immemorial when they were made by the islanders, mainly on Easter Sunday. After they had been lovingly prepared, the biscuits were then wrapped in the family's linen because they gave off such a mouth watering smell of butter..." We found some in a bakery and gave them a try. They are the tastiest little cookies. We devoured a whole bag before leaving the island.

We were tired from hours of walking. We caught a Vaporetto back to a stop near our hotel. Brandon and Katrina slept during the boat ride. Our feet hurt so we headed up to the room. Brandon wanted to take a nap, but never slept. Katrina slept for about 45 minutes. I just relaxed on the bed and dozed in and out.

After taking awhile to wake up and get ready, we headed back out to explore Venice a bit more. We headed for the Rialto bridge, stopping many times for Katrina to take pictures and to look in shops. You could always tell when we were getting near the tourist areas, as the walkways would go from a few people strolling along to masses of people trying to get by each other.

The Rialto bridge has a long history. The Rialto was the only connection between the two sides of the Grand Canal for hundreds of years. The bridge was originally constructed on boats in the Middle Ages. It was replaced by a wood bridge in the 13th century and was rebuilt many times over the next 200 years. In 1444 the weight of a crowd caused it to collapse. It was rebuilt of wood again, but this time with shops on either side and a draw bridge in the middle to let big ships through. In 1557 it was decided to build a bridge of stone, the one that stands today.

Katrina had been hunting for a new watch since we arrived in Italy. She finally found one in a shop on the Rialto bridge.

We crossed the bridge and began to look for a place for dinner. We wandered through the famous, but vacant for the day, fish market. We stopped for dinner at Il Giardino di Giada, a cinese (Chinese) restaurant. What a great meal. We have actually had some really great cinese food in Italy. Katrina and I had a meal special: wontons, sweet and sour chicken and white rice for Katrina, wontons, fried cinese chicken and fried rice for me, and egg drop soup for Brandon.

After dinner we slowly made our way back to the hotel. We stopped many times for nighttime pictures and for gelato...of course.

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