Thursday, July 17, 2014

Venice: Island of Glass, Island of Lace

We re-enter Venice majestically, via the Grand Canal. San Marco Square and the Doge's Palace is to our right, and as we move towards the Canale Della Giudecca, the lovely Santa Maria de Salute is straight ahead. We're lucky to be able to enjoy this birds-eye view of Venice. Cruise ships won't be allowed to do this for very much longer. Even if they're being towed, theirwake is damaging Venice's foundations. As all of Venice is constructed upon a base of millions of wooden poles stuck into the mud of the lagoon, it can't be raised. But the lagoon is sinking, and the tides are rising. So you can see why they're worried. We dock at San Basiglio, an easy walk to San Marco. Again, the advantage of cruising in a small ship!

This afternoon we visit Murano, the Island of Glass, and Burano, the Island of Lace. The glass-blowing demonstration is awesome. In less than a minute, a molten lump of glass is transformed into a perfect, rearing horse, with every detail of mane and hooves perfect. The artisan creates a vase even more quickly. Xingxing is fascinated. He thinks it's cooking!

Burano is unexpectedly picturesque, with every house painted a different color. The story goes that when the fishermen returned home after days at sea, they'd get so drunk they couldn't find their own houses. So the women painted each house a different color, and their husbands had no excuse for not coming home to the right house. 

Sadly, the art of lace-making is dying. Young women are more interested in their cell phones and Facebook pages. But you have to admit, the old-fashioned, labor-intensive lacework is beautiful. I admire a lace hair-clip shaped like a butterfly. It took ten days to make and costs over $100. But I lose hair-clips, or the clasp breaks. It's just too much money, in these days of plastic!

There's time to wander along the canals and over the little bridges, and to enjoy a glass of wine at one of the many tiny caf├ęs. Xingxing sniffs at every corner and lifts his leg at every post, enjoying being ashore.

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