Saturday, May 3, 2014

No Touch!

Due to our early bedtime and extended sleep the night before, mom and I were up bright and early the next day. We thought we would venture out to find some treats for breakfast and as soon as we stepped out the front door, we could smell the nearby fish market. We hoped that there would be something other than fish and were delighted to see a selection of fruit and vegetables being set up nearby.

We weren’t exactly sure how to go about purchasing from the market, so we scoped it out for a few minutes, but no one seemed to be buying anything! Finally, we decided to go for it and selected a vendor that looked good. We marveled at how great the fruit looked and mom finally reached out to pick up an orange. From off to the side we heard a loud, “No touch!” Apparently, the market doesn’t open until 8:00am.

We headed off to try and find something else, especially a coffee for my mom! We found a nice, little bakery and picked up some delicious croissants and an expresso (the closest we could get to coffee for my mom).

After this, we got ourselves organized for a boat tour of Murano, Burano and Torcello with Tanya. Brian, Esther and Betty Jean were also supposed to join us, but we still weren’t exactly sure when to expect them. We hoped they would be waiting at the vaporetto stop when we got back from the tour.

Our tour was supposed to be an artisans’ tour, so we would see glass-blowing on Murano, lace-making on Burano and the local artists and Byzantine-style buildings on Torcello. We got a chance to check out St. Mark’s Square (or Piazza San Marco) while on our walk to the tour meeting spot. Early morning is definitely the time to check it out because it get crazy busy later in the day.

Our tour started off right away, with the guide telling us about the nearby islands. Some of them were used as isolation for people with dangerous, contagious diseases or as prisons in the past. We also made a quick stop at Lido (we still aren’t exactly sure why) where we learned a bit about the island. It is a long-skinny island that is approximately 12km in length. It hosts the Italian Film Festival each year and was home to the airport until the 1960s, because of its shape, when the Marco Polo Airport was built. It also has cars . . . something that the old city of Venice definitely doesn’t!

We finally arrived at Murano, where we saw a glass-blower at work. We also learned that it takes a lot of work to get into the profession because apprentices have to work with a master for up to ten years before working on their own. We saw some of their beautiful creations, including intricate chandeliers, and picked up some small trinkets, like pendants, as souvenirs.

Next up was Burano, where we would see lace-making. The first thing we noticed about this island was the beautifully-coloured houses. This is something Burano is known for. The residents aren’t even allowed to change the colour of the paint without permission. We saw the lace-maker working on a project and it looked like it would be a lot of work. Then we spent some time admiring the work. I wanted to buy everything in the shop! Like Venice, there were no cars here, just walkways and canals. Even funeral processions proceed down the walkways, since there is no other way to get off the island to the cemetery. Other islands in the lagoon serve as cemeteries, as there are none on the inhabited islands.

Next up was Torcello. The island was heavily populated for many years, but a malaria outbreak caused the island to become virtually desolate as people became sick and others tried to escape the island. Now, the island has a population of eleven people, most of who are artisans or fisherman. It was very strange to see how desolate the island was, but I was excited to see the Byzantine-style architecture, having taken art and art history all through high school.

On the way back to St. Mark’s Square we passed the only green space in Venice, a park. It was created by Napoleon when he invaded Venice! It also reminded mom and I of Stanley Park in Vancouver because people were out running and walking along the seawall.

We finally arrived back in St. Mark’s Square and fought through the crowds to see if Brian, Esther and Betty Jean had arrived. We didn’t see them at the vaporetto stop, but when we got back to the apartment, we found out that they had arrived!

After letting them get settled in, we hurried off for a gondola ride, the number one thing on mine and mom’s list of things to do in Venice. We got ourselves organized into two boats and were off down the canal. We travelled down the large canal and then some smaller ones. I think we’re going to be in a lot of other tourist’s pictures because they were waiting at every bridge we came to get their pictures!

We followed up with a delicious pasta dinner (which mom and I were too tired to try the night before). Although I was full after, I couldn’t stop thinking about how good it was! We finished up the evening with some wandering through the shops to pick up last-minute souvenirs and some gelato. Then we headed back to the apartments to get some sleep before embarking on the cruise the next day.

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