# Venice: December 15-19 2016
## Innocents Abroad 2016
#europe16 #venice #italy—
/We actually got to Venice on Friday the 16th, but it was still Thursday at home. After an all-night flight to Amsterdam and a crazy sprint through the labyrinth of the airport there we landed at Marco Polo Airport in Venice, then had to figure out the bus system to our hotel (which Jamey did beautifully with no help from me). We were SO tired but we forced ourselves to stay awake all day so we could get adjusted to our new time schedule. I’m writing this at 2:30 AM on Saturday/Sunday so it obviously didn’t work so well for me. But I’ve always had a complicated relationship with sleep./
Venice is beautiful. I feel like I am on a movie set almost all the time-everything is picture perfect and just achingly beautiful. Perhaps it’s even more beautiful because you know it’s really just a whisper of what it was in its glory days–the stunning facades are fading, the water in the canals is riding and corroding many of the buildings, and so many of the glorious churches with their rich, generous architectural tributes to the glory of God are in disrepair–but they are all still magnificent, even as they crumble. There is no other city like Venice, but I find myself thinking about New Orleans a lot while I’m here–I think because both cities are so unique and so old and graceful and have so many memories hidden just under the surface of every lovely facade. Both cities always seem to be whispering something significant and profound and somewhat sad…
We’ve learned that Italian waiters want you to stay in their restaurants as long as possible, and if you make an effort to fully enjoy your meal they will eventually converse with you. Coffee here is completely different than in the states–much stronger, much smoother, and, while available at any location at any time of the day, served in much smaller containers. Limoncello is a treat that everyone seems to hold dear, and it is fantastic. The food is rich and delicious, made with obvious great care and fresh ingredients. It is winter, and very cold outside, so at every shop that sells gelato (and there are many of them) you’ll find a vat of hot chocolate (a thick, syrupy drink) and hot wine (which reminds me of very strong cranberry juice). Both drinks take a little getting used to, but they grow on you and they’re a welcome warmth when it’s so cold.
St Mark’s Square is inspirational and truly humbling and awe-inspiring, which is exactly what the doges had in mind when it was built. We went to the top of it today and looked out on the square outside and over the amazing mosaic-tiled floors and walls of the inside–I can imagine having those grand views at your disposal would make one feel quite powerful. The artwork is stunning. There’s a little museum at the top that has models of the basilica and they help us understand just what an architectural wonder it is. Jamey was especially taken my those–I had to drag him away so he could pick up his bag from the little locker where they made him stash it before entering and that closed at 5 PM.
There are shops everywhere, ranging from junky tourist traps to original boutiques to high end fashion stores (Chanel Fendi Burberry Prada, etc. ) to art galleries filled with beautiful works no doubt inspired by the city we are in. I haven’t bought anything yet, but I’ve done a great deal of drooling. Ordinarily I would be frustrated at my lack of disposable funds, but just being here is truly a gift, and I’m not about to spoil it by worrying about what I can and can’t bring home–my memories will be more precious than anything I could possibly buy.
Tomorrow we’re headed to Murano and some of the museums we stumbled on as we were walking back from San Marco tonight. I am looking forward to it…hopefully I’ll get some sleep eventually tonight.
/I’m writing this post-Murano–the last few days of our whirlwind trip through Italy have left little spare time. But I want to make sure I write things down now before we get to France./
Murano was awesome. It’s a pretty little island across the lagoon from Venice–just a 17 minute ride by vaparetto (water taxi). The main industry on the island is definitely glass making–we were guided to the only factory open the Sunday we were there immediate as we exited the vaparetto, and along the way we saw lots of vendors selling glass trinkets, all labeled “producto de Murano.” Evidently there are a lot of imposters out there.
The glass demonstration was impressive. The guy took a long, glowing red pipe out of an insanely hot oven and stuck it on the silica sand, which immediately turned into glass. Then he swung it around until it was an oblong, glowing blob of glass and blew into the other end of the pipe, blowing the glass into a little bowl. Then he twirled it around and shaped it into a lively little vase. His second demonstration involved more of the same, but this time he used pliers–and a lot of skill–to shape the glass into a little horse standing on its hind legs. I spent a fortune in the little factory shop on jewelry for all of the girls and some little figurines for mom. Jamey toured the gallery where they had the high end art and found some pieces he loved. One day maybe we can afford them 😕
We strolled through the town and checked out some of the stores and the galleries with beautiful glass pieces. The curator in the Simone Cenedese gallery took us into the artist’s workshop and let us see the massive ovens where he fires the glass. So interesting and so beautiful.
We ate lunch in a really good little restaurant right off of the square. It was a really foggy day, so it looked like the island just over the water was just appearing out of the air just as the sun was setting. It was a neat effect, and made for some amazing photo ops.
We wanted to go to a couple of museums when we got back but we took the wrong vaparetto line and ended up getting totally lost in the streets of Venice…which is always a wonderful thing to do.