What do you do when you have already seen the major sights of Venice? Take the Vaporetto on the long journey to Burano, of course. It was a nice break from walking and a chance to finally pull out a book as the boat skimmed through the lagoon. When we finally approached Burano we weren’t expecting the short, brightly coloured buildings lining smaller canals with motorboats parked beside houses. We weren’t expecting the laid back stroll past beautiful boutiques selling exquisite scarves and gifts. We weren’t expecting lace-making demonstrations of Venetian lace. If we hadn’t had an extra day and a 24 hour Vaporetto pass, we probably wouldn’t have ventured out to see this lesser known island. Part of the initial draw for me was the lace-making heritage. I am still such a beginner when it comes to identifying styles of lace and how they are created. A year ago I took my first lace-making lesson at The Sheep’s Head Yarn Festival in the south west of Ireland. Carrickmacross lace is child’s play in comparison to the intricate knot work that we saw on display in one of the older lace-making shops.
We grabbed gelato before meandering our way down and around the canals, admiring the serenity that came with lazy streets and joyful colours painted on box houses. Water lapped gently and the sun shone brightly. We finally returned to sit at a cafe in the sun enjoying Spritz and coffee. I didn’t really figure out what was in Spritz but kept seeing it everywhere and remembered that it was a refreshing drink particular to the area. Maybe it’s just us tourists who order it now, but who cares? When you’re on your holidays and wearing sleeveless tops for the first time in months (years??) you feel like you can just be that cliche foreigner for one afternoon … or perhaps that Irish-aclimatised foreigner who thinks anything over 15 degrees must be summer.
In the late afternoon we got on the boat headed to Murano, the home of Venetian glass. The colours of the buildings were far more muted and sort of suited the mood of an increasingly overcast sky and proximity to Venice, where buildings were grander versions of the same colouring. The streets of Murano were particularly quiet and there were far fewer restaurants and cafes along the streets. We did pop in and out of glass shops. I remember hearing about the Venetian chandeliers that had been intricately made for and shipped to Castletown House, just outside of Dublin. One of the first shops we went into was canopied with smaller versions of that style of chandelier. Their bubblegum colours might not be my favourite decor but I could appreciate the work and craftsmanship that went into each floral detail.
Back in Venice we decided that eating seafood beside the canal was worth the wind of a cooler evening, the price and the tourist appeal so we succumbed to a very talented waiter who tempted us with free Bellinis, which, if you didn’t know, originate in Venice. If you’re not careful the many deals they present to you could add up pretty quickly but if you know what you want and don’t get side-tracked, the prices aren’t so bad (comparatively to what I am used to). And really, the view is why you are sitting there. Gondolas floating in a row just a few metres away … or the police boats. The sun illuminating the buildings across the Grand Canal. The fake exterior of the Rialto Bridge hiding it while it is being renovated. It was dark before we made our way back to Piazzalle Roma and our bus.
It was packing and sorting time back at the hotel after our last full day in Italy.