Our last day in Venice dawned bright and sunny for the first time that we'd ever seen (on this or any previous trip to Venice). This is part of the produce market outside our hotel.
We arranged a trip to one of the glass factories in Murano through our hotel. The basic exchange seems to be that the glass factory pays for a water taxi from your hotel to their facility in exchange for having you walk around their showroom.
Honestly, the taxi ride alone was worth the trip. Sort of like private vaporetto ride with much more comfortable seating and a fantastic view of the city.
Here's Melanie hanging out in the stern seat. There is also an indoor seating section for bad weather or just to get out of the wind. The water taxis move fairly slowly through the canals within the city of Venice.
Once out into the Venetian lagoon however they average a much faster speed. Actual speeds may vary due to rules which were imperceptible to us and were only followed in the presence of law enforcement.
The lagoon outside of Venice is completely different from the city itself. There are various islands scattered around and lots of water traffic between them. The airport and some parking garages on the mainland are also part of the traffic flow.
Between Venice and Murano lies San Michele, the cemetary island for Venice. The island is surrounded by a wall with occassional gates like this one. Trees (a rarity in Venice) and the top of huge marble tombs can be seen above the walls.
We visited the Vetreria Rossetto where the 'tour' basically consists of a few minutes of watching work progress in the factory. Our guide gave us a brief description and answered some questions before turning salesman on us and leading us through the galleries of glass products in the showroom. Unfortunately, they don't allow pictures but this part is worth the trip as well. Chandeliers, decanters, glassware, vases, and every sort of decorative object imaginable comes out of Murano and the craftmanship is superb. The prices reflect this, but then every home should have at least one piece of Murano glass, right?
Entire sections of Murano seem to be nothing but glass factories, and certainly about half of all the shops (if not more) are dedicated exclusively to selling glass. The work of masters tends to be in the showrooms of the factories they work for while apprentice pieces end up everywhere else.
Like Venice, Murano is a series of small islands separated by canals and connected by bridges. It is much quieter and less visited than Venice. If not for the glass factories there would be almost no tourism here. Once you're here though it's definitely worth spending some time wandering around.
I'm not just saying that because the vaporetto workers were on strike and we had to walk to the far end of Murano whether we wanted to or not. (The glass factory did not send us back by water taxi, although it seems like they could have given what we spent in their store).
If the vaporetto workers are not on strike, Murano is actually very well connected to Venice and the rest of the islands in the lagoon. We're not sure what the nightlife is like here but certainly there is plenty of daytime activity and lots of restaurants around.
Murano's centerpiece in terms of architecture is the Basilica dei Santi Maria e Donato. The original pieces that are left date from the 12th century. In the 13th century, Murano got a huge boost when the Doge of Venice ordered all the glass factories to move to Murano. With public services being what they were in the 13th century, the risk of fire to the rest of the city was considered too dangerous so they were banned in Venice proper.
For whatever reason, Murano has a more relaxed feel to it than Venice does. The population density seems to be about the same (there is certainly no unused space in either place) and if anything, Murano is even more confusing to get around as there aren't even the occassional 'Rialto ->' signs to help out.
This is a wine boat. This is the first wine boat we've ever encountered and I have to say we find the whole concept rather enticing. Hypothetically speaking, you could be lounging in your hammock out in back of your villa and the wine boat could pull up and deliver a refill on the spot.
Now we're back in Venice. Can you tell? The northwest section of Venice is called Cannareggio and is the quietest section in our opinion. Tourists seem to only come out here if they are lost, or if the vaporetto strike has abandonded them here. One might also wonder why we have so many canal pictures. In our defense I can only say that everytime a little alleyway suddenly empties out onto a bridge, it is strikingly picturesque and we actually did cull a huge number of these out.
We spent the afternoon shopping and eating. For instance, we learned that 'pano di doge' is Venetian secret code for 'fruitcake'. Along with linen, the Murano glass and some Carnivale masks, we also bought gelato (of course). This day's flavors were pistachio
and Cuneese di Rhum
for Melanie, which she describes as 'mostly just Rum'. David had cherry
You can't go to Venice and not take a gondola ride, even though you might second guess the value of it all once you find out the price. We've done it a couple times now, both times at night and I think we would just always do it at night. It was windy and chilly so gondolas were not in high demand and we managed to get a decent deal. Here's the Bridge of Sighs from the water at night.
Last time the picture the gondolier took of us in his gondola came out horrible. This time, it's only mildly horrible but we put it here for posterity.