Monday, 8 September 2014

Italy, Venice (Murano & Burano)

We simply had to go to these two craftsmen islands in the Venetian lagoon. The island of Murano is best known for its beautiful handmade glass while its counterpart, the island of Burano is reputed for its high quality lace.

The history of these islands was equally interesting. The craftsmen and artisans of these two islands were highly prized in Venice as they contribute greatly to the economy. As a result, they were not allowed to leave the Republic at all. Those who tried to leave would be sentenced to death or worse, had their hands cut off. 


Having read the history of the islands, we set off to Murano very early in the morning. Unexpectedly, we also witnessed the daily lives of some of the islanders who were just starting out their day. We saw a number of men busy lugging goods and merchandise in their boats to sell in the main marketplace in Venice.

Others were just cleaning their boats like the picture above. Somehow, this brown boat stood out from all the other boats, so I snapped a photo of it. However, I suddenly felt very self-conscious when the owner looked at me. I must admit that I have forgotten that it was rather rude to take photos of people without their consent. Eventually, we moved on and I was thankful that my initial anxiety slowly faded away.

We came across the glass factory in Murano and then we made our way to the Museo Del Vetro (glass museum). We wanted to learn more about the island's collection of glass work, but I must warn that the museum might be a pretty boring place for those who are not into glass. We spent only a short while there before heading to the taxi station to visit Burano. 

When we reached the taxi station, the information board immediately caught my attention. Irregular services??

I didn't know that labour strike could happen in Venice and being stranded in Murano was not an appealing situation for me. Fortunately, the boats came on schedule and we happily headed to Burano. 

Two adorable cats found under the tree greeted us when we alighted from the boat. They were so cute and didn't seem to be bothered at all by the attention they had from people. I even had wild thoughts of "kidnapping" one of them.

We found lace on display in one of the shops. The people here not only weave lace, they also make use of lace to create hand fans, parasols and blouses. The lace designs really looked intricate to me; I'm even worried to hold it.

This is the reason why we visited Burano. Largely to see its famous, brightly, colored houses. And right at the end of the canal, the red house in front of the bridge looked very much like the Santa Claus house. To us, Burano certainly looks like a joyful place to live.

The houses were simple looking and sturdy. However, it was very quiet when we walked along the houses. They're almost uninhibited. I mean where were the sounds of little kids crying or running and people talking? Or the smell of something cooking? Surely, that would be the norms of a house right? The only traces of human occupancy were the fluttering of lacy curtains decorating the windows and cute flower pots neatly lined on some of the window sills. 

The legend of Burano stated that the houses were painted in striking, contrasting colours so that the fishermen could recognise their homes when they went fishing. We thought we could see some fishermen mending their nets near their boats but we saw none.

We visited the Museo del Merletto (Lace Museum) next, which showcased many different designs of lace from different periods. The lace in the exhibits were remarkable because they looked soft and thick and had lots of details and soft curves. I guess this was the first time and maybe the only time in my life whereby I had successfully took an interest in lace. 

Haha.. Up next, is my post on Rome, our next destination in Italy.

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