Monday, June 28, 2010

Venice and Murano

June 28, 2010 - Evening

Today was better than yesterday. We woke up rested and with fresh perspectives. We both really enjoyed the day today. We started by catching the vapporetto or water ferry to Murano. Murano has been known for making Venitian glass since the 1200's when, according to the history books, all of the Venetian glass making was moved to protect the mostly wooden city from the high heat and smell of the glass furnaces. According to our guide Emilio at the glass factory, it was also so the Venitian Republic could protect the Venetian glass making secrets from outsiders by restricting travel to the island to residents and artisans only. At one time, daughters of Murano artisans were allowed to marry Venitian royalty and even up until the 50's the "masters" were greeted with reverence by those on the streets.

We visited several shops on arrival and weren't sure what we were looking for. I really wanted to see glass being blown and Megan was looking for something to buy. We stumbled into a shop called Fornace Main Glass Factory or Formia. We were about the browse and I decided to ask the sales guy where we could see some glass (vetrai) being blown. He mumbled something about it being a gallery and the factory wasn't for tourists and well, I don't have anything else to do, follow me. We followed and found ourselves in the glass factory watching several artists making glass. This factory produces specific pieces over and over and each artist specializes in a style such as vases, glasses, lighting, etc. Many times this is based on physical ability due to the weight of the pieces being made. Each master has an assistant (or 3 I didn't catch that) who is also a master but assists. In the factory, they must make specific items, vs the independent artists who can make whatever they like. After watching for a while and getting a lot of information about how it all worked, I asked a lot of questions, we went back to the showroom. We found some pieces we liked but hadn't decided and once again Emilio said "follow me". He took us out back again and upstairs into an extensive gallery where we got to see more of the commercial items as well as specialty pieces such as lines used for Louis Vuitton and other designers stores. We felt like high-rollers. After the 2nd tour, we ended up purchasing a vase and a sailboat. They are awesome. We will post pictures sometime.
I know this is long, but it was a really great day and I don't want to forget any of it.

We walked around some more and found a shop that Debbie from work said she visited years ago. The master, Guliano Tosi was working still. I told the shopkeeper we were looking for a piece from the master and she took us to the back to watch him work. He and his assistant were working on candlesticks. We were able to watch the process from start to finish and. It is amazing how even creating the glass is an art form; almost like a ballet. The master would move from station to station to perform certain tasks and end up with something amazing. After watching the work, we bought a bird and candlestick for Debbie since she has regretted not buying glass when she was there years ago.

After a few more shops, we left Murano with nothing. The glass is all being shipped and my bank account must be empty by now. Glass isn't cheap. It costs the glass factory about 450 Euros per hour for each piece that's made. Murano is really the highlight of the trip for me so far.

We walked around Venice a bit more, Megan bought some silk fabric light cover thing from some famous shop and we rested at the apartment. We had dinner in a square near our apartment and just relaxed. Oh and the funniest thing was when we were being seated, our table was a bit wobbly. One of the waiters reached into his pocket and pulled out an already folded piece of cardboard to shim the table with. I commented that he was prepared and the waiter replied "we know the square". It was funny to me…

Now we are washing clothes and trying to learn Italian from watching Chuck on TV. So funny. Tomorrow, off to Burano.


Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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