Wednesday, October 26, 2005

This one's for you, Julie....

There is no comparison with the journeys and the adventures so don't look for one!! Today was gliding across the lagoon to the islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello. The weather is being typical October weather: very misty with islands, boats, campaniles drifting in and out of focus. The end of the day, the sun finally burns through but only enough to gild everything with light. As with versions of Romeo and Juliet I have seen where it now obvious that the set designer and/or director had been to Verona, so I find that remembering some versions of The Merchant of Venice reflect the shifting quality of light and life in this watery place.

Murano: home of glassmakers for over 700 years. Glass blown and molded into shapes and forms one wouldn't have believed possible. We're talking 50 000 Euro pieces on display, people! Not quite my style and the dusting would kill me (stop laughing all of you!) but worth seeing once. I still haven't seen anything as charming as Julie's strawberries but then I am extremely biased!!!

Burano: home of fishermen and, b/c the ladies have to have something to do while the boys are away, lacemakers. And housepainters except these guys are not going to get any commissions in the boringness of West Kel Est let me tell you. Just pause for a minute and go and dig out your crayons and pick out all the yellows, purples, pinks, browns - terracotta to chestnut, blues including aqua, turquoise, and marine, and greens. No white, no black. It was quite the cheery eyeful in the mist I can tell you! The lace was everything from spider web fine to the SEast Asian factory coarse because they can't fill the demand of the millions of tourists with the few local ladies - youngest 54, eldest 92 - who still work by hand. This place also has a Leaning Tower: in fact there are several all over the lagoon but this one is noteworthy b/c it is as far out of line as Pisa's and they still ring the bells in it daily!!

Torcello: an island with only 15 permanent residents now but the longest inhabited in the lagoon. The church is 11th C (I think - the numbers and centuries are starting to blur....) and very Byzantine with bright and glorious mosaics in the iconographic style. Today I learned that being bad is going to get me in trouble of the hot and burning variety unless I continue to commit the sin of anger in which case I will be frozen in my anger. The church was a lovely oasis of quiet and space for about 15 minutes when we were invaded by a group of teenage boys on a school trip ( yeah - we send ours on sports events, these guys get the mosaics and church of Torcello. No wonder the Italians have a different perspective on life's importances!!) We escaped by walking up the 8 or 9 floors of ramps to the top of the bell tower and gawped at the distances we could see in the clearing light.

I am enjoying this group much more than the previous one - there are only 19 of us and we are staying in one place so there isn't the packing up and moving on every couple of days. There are several couples as well as about equal numbers of men and women travelling solo. AND I have a room of my own!! Mind you, it looks like it was dropped out of a bordello (stop asking how I would know that - my idea of a bordello, ok??) all red and gold flocked wall paper over padding (good for soundproofing and hiding the irregularities in the plaster which happen when your hotel along with everything else in town is sinking...) and red carpet with gold and pink flowers on it and shutters that go up and down with a switch. I had to buy a white cyclamen to help counter the red but it is having a tough time in there!!

Tomorrow is more art and maybe a concert in the evening. I am finding the assault on the eyes and the constant being lost more tiring than I expected but it's Venezia, eh???

And just when I thought that nothing could beat the scooter lady on the autostrada, the other night we were treated to a gondola ride. Lovely and romantic (warning to Himself - a repeat visit is required!!), right? Well for the couple in the couple seat, yes. For moi in the side seat, slightly less so as I could watch our gondolier having a smoke and talking on his cell phone!! And today? I took the vaporetto along the Grand Canal and watched in disbelief as 2 vaporetti, 2 gondoli, 1 traghetto, a moving "van" barge, a motor boat and 3 taxi boats ALL were manouevered through the same 30 metres of canal space. Those of you who have been here will be smiling and the rest of you will have to ask questions!!!

OK: time to sort out some food. Last night I learned about the joys of "spritz": Campari, white wine and acqua con gazza. Very nice and you can look forward to it next summer as Casa Nostra!!!

Arrivederci, mi amici.

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