Sunday, May 29, 2011

At some point on my trip, my camera started taking square pictures instead of rectangular ones. These are the last pictures of Venice and Murano that I took, from the plane as we were leaving. The picture above is Venice. You can see the Grand Canal as it snakes its way through the island. Also you can just make out San Marco square. I've highlighted them in the next picture:

Below is the island of Murano, on the right hand side of the picture, kind of cut off. The plane was flying too fast! You can just make out the lighthouse at the Faro vaporetto stop toward the middle of the bottom of the island.

This is what the lighthouse looks like close-up:

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Last night I searched and searched for my ATM card. I had taken it out of my wallet when I was in Italy and left it in the apartment and it was still in the case where we kept it when we got home on Sunday. I saw it on Monday because I looked for it after I realized it wasn't in my wallet when I was in the grocery store earlier that day. So yesterday I went to use it thinking it was back in my wallet where I put it on Monday and it wasn't there. I searched and searched the suitcases and the places where I thought it was and couldn't find it. Finally we called the bank and reported it missing. They offered me a replacement either by mail or by walking into any branch. I chose to get a new card in person, as it would be faster. So as I'm sitting in the bank, waiting for the branch manager to make my new card, I take out my checkbook and what falls out? My missing ATM card! I was very embarrassed and I hope no one watches the security tape to see my shame.

Here are some of the horses I sculpted in the Lucio Bubacco class. My favorites are the blue one and the one we attached to the bead.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

So we're home. The yard looks beautiful and there's a loud frog in or near the pond. The sad news is that Junior, our almost 12-year-old goldfish died while we were gone. If he's the only pet that meets his demise as a result of his trip I guess I'll be happy. (Barney was PTS right after a vacation and Pixel was PTS right before). Another semi-sad thing is that the robin's nest is down off the lamp near the front door. I'll miss them. It's good to be home but I'm exhausted. I just want to hit the sack.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Last night we took the vaporetto to the Accadamia stop and went to a fabulous restaurant for dinner. Robert had cuttlefish spaghetti. He loves squid ink! After dinner we went to a concert in a church. They played Vivaldi, Albinoni and Bach. It was beautiful. I couldn't help but think how much my father would have enjoyed it.

This morning, we ate breakfast and went to the San Toma stop on the vaporetto and walked around. We found a gondolier and he gave us a small tour. It was probably a very touristy thing to do but it was fun and we enjoyed it.

Getting in and out of the gondola was a little scary, as we had to cross over another parked gondola to get to the one we were taking. I thought for sure I'd end up in the drink.

After the gondola ride, we went to the Museum of something or other and saw an exhibit of Lino Tagliapietra's work. He's a very important Italian glass master who was one of the first to share his knowledge with American glass artists. He taught at Pilchuck for many years. His work is really pretty. I don't know if I was allowed to take photos so I snuck some:

After that we had lunch at Londra Palace, which was a place highly recommended by Martha. It was good. Robert had cuttlefish risotto this time. So he's had it three different ways now.

Now we're back at the hotel, gathering steam for this evening when we pack things up and get ready to leave for home tomorrow. It's very pleasant out and we're going to work on tomorrow's crossword puzzle while sitting on our roof terrace. It's sad to say good bye to Venice and especially to Murano. We've had such a good time. I can't wait to come back.

Friday, May 20, 2011

This is our hotel from the outside. This morning we had breakfast and walked to Piazza San Marcos to visit the basilica. It is decorated completely in mosaics, and most of it is gold.

Here you can see our room; the round window up top and the metal frame of the roof deck to the right.

This is the view from the round window. I can't get over it. It's so beautiful.

Between our hotel and the Piazza is the bridge of sighs. Look what they have done. It's abominable. The sides of the building are covered in advertising, so there is no way to take a picture of the bridge without taking a picture of the ads. Ick.  Bad idea, Venice.

So we got to the basilica, and there were no photos allowed. Everyone else was taking them, so I snuck a few, as well. I got caught once but they didn't throw me out.

This is the body of Saint Mark, "rescued" from a monastery in Alexandria.

Below are some pictures of the mosaics that line the ceiling. This is in natural light.

These  horses are from the second century, B.C. and were originally from the Hippodrome in Constantinople. They were outside the basilica for many years but were brought inside and replicas were placed outside.

Here is the inside of the basilica all lit up. They turn on the lights at 11:30 every day and we just happened to be there at that time. It makes a huge difference to see it all aglow. The gold is just beautiful. Plus after our visit to Orsoni yesterday, we know how they make the gold mosaic tiles.

This was our apartment building in Murano. Our apartment was the second floor, right hand side. It was very cute and comfortable. I loved that we had a washing machine. We were able to pack just half of the clothes we would need that way. Here are a couple of interior pictures.

The decor was blue and in each room, there was a beautiful chandelier.

The only thing the place lacked was internet. I think when we come back we would stay here again, only we would do something about getting a modem so I could  blog every day. It would have been much more convenient.

We had to move our suitcases in two turns. We each have one large suitcase, a smaller suitcase plus a carry-on and our handbag/daypacks. There was no way we would be able to maneuver all that luggage on and off the vaporetto and up and down the bridges we needed to cross. So we took our time and the afternoon to ride the vaporetto back and forth into Venice to check into our hotel.

When we got to the hotel, the clerk said we have the best room in the place. It's pretty cool. It is in what must have been the attic, and we have a roof terrace where we can sit and look down on the city. Here are some views of Venice and St. Mark's square in different lights from our roof:

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Day 8, Monday

Today was the first day of class with Emilio Santini. He's from a long line of glassworkers from the Venice and Murano area. He brought along his teaching assistant, Alex.

Class was great. He has a slightly different style than  Lucio and it was good to see them both. My friends Lori and Paul from the Boston Chapter came to the studio. They aren't taking the class; they just happened to be here at the same time as the classes. They also know Emilio well, so it was somewhat of a reunion. I left class at 6:00, after the demonstration of pulling points in soft glass. It looked too hard to try at the end of the day. For dinner we took the vaporetto into Venice and ate at a lagoon-side restaurant which was very good.

Speaking of eating, we have been trying hard to try new things this vacation. Some of the more unusual foods we've been eating are cuttlefish, sea snails, eel, goose, sardines in saor, along with the more usual things such as clams, mussels and sole. It's fun to ask what the waiter recommends or what is the specialty of the restaurant and try that.

Day 9, Tuesday

We started the day at the Venetian mirror factory. We weren't there long, as the man who was to show us around didn't come to work that day, but we did get to see the end products. They are very beautiful and ornate. A little too fancy for my house, I think. I really did like them, though.

In class in the afternoon, Emilio's sister Lucia came and gave us a demonstration of how she gilds glass with gold leaf. She uses a turpentine-flux mixture, paints the design, then applies the leaf, scrapes off the excess and fires it on. It becomes permanent. She is very talented.

After class we saw a demonstration of 'batuto' which means 'beaten'. It's an engraving process where the glass ends up with a look that metal gets when it's hammered. This is master engraver Luigi Camozzo at work.

For dinner, Robert went into Venice to a pizza parlor and got take out pizza for us. I had a 4-cheese which I didn't like because it had gorgonzola on it. Who knew I wouldn't like bleu cheese on pizza? I thought I liked cheese on everything, but I guess not.

One of the main things we like about Europe is all the dogs. I haven't seen a BT yet, and I hope I don't because I'm not sure I could resist greeting it. This is a little dog we saw, bringing someone the newspaper.

Day 10, Wednesday

Today was our last day of class. We used blowpipes to blow hollow beads and vessels, or in my case, shards. :)  It was fun and I plan to do some more at home. I spent a lot of time watching Emilio work. I think you absorb a lot just by watching. I did practice some, but I felt I wanted to see more than do more.

After class we had a party to celebrate. Everyone brought something good to eat. I didn't want to cook, so we brought a meat and cheese platter from the deli. We left around 10:00, because we had to pack up and get ready to move to Venice.

Day 11, Thursday

We finished packing this morning and went out to breakfast. We had due cappuccini and a couple of  bready-type things. Then we met at the vaporetto and took it into Venice for a tour of the Orsoni mosaic works. It was incredible.

Tomorrow I'll talk about leaving our apartment, getting to Venice and our hotel.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Day 6, Saturday

We started the day off at Carlo Dona's toolshop, a highlight of a trip to Murano. He makes incredible, high quality glass blowing and lampworking tools. I bought a bunch of things and I'm excited to try them out.

Then we headed to the internet cafe to post my blog. 

After a cappuccino at the cafe and a very quick perousal of Facebook, we went to Burano, a quaint little island near Murano. It could be said to be a tourist trap, but it's very pretty and is famous for its lace and embroidery. I bought a Thanksgiving tablecloth and some napkins. It's really pretty. In Burano, all the houses are painted pretty pastel colors.

It was a very warm day and we got tired so headed back to Murano and a quick nap. Our across-the-hall neighbors Pete, and Caroline, who is my class-mate, had a party. We had a nice buffet-style dinner and good conversation. All the people traveling with Ofilia were invited. It was fun.

Day 7, Sunday

Today was the first day it has rained since we've been here and boy did it rain. We had tickets for the Secret Itineraries tour of the Doge's Palace, so we made the trip into Venice. It was cold, windy and rainy. Bleah.

The tour was really cool. It was the tour of the parts of the palace related to the administration of Justice. We saw the cells where Casanova was kept and where he escaped from. I think I would have tried to escape, too. They were small and dark and creepy.

After the tour we went for lunch to Caffe Florian, where Ernest Hemingway ate once. It was pretty classy and I think it was the most expensive meal we've had here. It was so expensive because it was right in Saint Mark's square.

It was so cold and rainy that we decided to come home and relax for the afternoon. We had some laundry to do and the dishes needed washing, so home-based chores prevailed. I plan to explore Venice more while we're staying there toward the end of the week.

Now we're just hanging out, reading, and writing. I made a yummy supper of leftover chicken, tortelloni and zucchini.

The sun made an appearance at the last minute, just before setting, and gave us this incredible view of a beautiful rainbow, ending at the Church of San Pietro.