Day 08, Tuesday, 19 April 2016 – Venice

Today we have been on holidays for one week. It has been a very exciting, interesting, incredible journey and very tiring at times.

The glass blowing demo at Murano was fascinating. The worker made a magnificent vase and then promptly placed it back in the oven to become pure Murano slag once more. He then removed another bit of slag, and within one minute (the amount of time he has to work the slag before it hardens and he can no longer mould it without re-heating and loosing what work he has achieved so far) and made a prancing horse. It was incredible. He then returned it to the slag for further demonstrations.

The beauty and quality of the Murano glass is that each piece is carefully executed. Once the piece is finished it must be cooled over 24 hours. Any piece with imperfections in it will shatter during this cooling down period, and the pieces will be returned to slag for the next creation. There is a 30% breakage rate during the cooling down time for Murano creations. Only the very hardiest and best is ever sold. It comes with a door to door guarantee of replacement if any breakage occurs during the mailing process.

24 carat gold is the only metal which can meld to glass, so that helps to explain why many of their most beautiful pieces are so costly, and they are magnificent. Even their necklaces do not have chains. Where a chain would be required on a normal piece of jewellery, the Murano process is to enclose a drop of 24 carat gold within a tiny glass bubble – these are joined to make the chain.

I had warned Russ before we left Australia that I would be spending money while at the Murano outlet, and I did. We also bought Mum her ear-rings and a surprise to go with them. I bought a double chain (each piece can be worn separately or joined worn together) and a set of ear-rings.

We then spent some time wandering around the floor and looking with envy at some other pieces. Their vases and drinkware are incredible. Unfortunately, as they are all copy-righted photos are forbidden and staff wander the floor to make sure this rule is enforced.

We came back to St Mark’s Square by private boat, passing the Hotel Cipriani where George Clooney was married, and where Angelina and Brad stay when they are in Venice, and where Angelina stayed while filming The Tourist.

Once we made it back to the square we had some free time, and some serious shopping was done. We also had a café latte just so we didn’t have to pay 1.50 euro to use a toilet that could have been smelly and dirty (we have come across a few of them along the way), but in this instance apparently they were very clean and well kept.

Giuseppe warned us about the scale of pricing along the square. Many places have set up tables and chairs in front of their establishments – some even hire bands to play music for you while you are there. Many people sit at these tables and chairs (where you have to order something to be able to use them) and then are very shocked to discover the cost of their coffee can be as high as 70 euro ($105.00 Australian).

If you go inside the establishment for your café latte you may only be charged as much as 45 euros. However, if you go inside and sit at the bar the cost can be as little as 15 euro. You can, of course, use the toilets for free.

We also grabbed our daily gelato from a very friendly young lady and then took them and sat on the upturned seating in front of the Basilca to wait for our guide to arrive. When she came we all gathered in the long line for Reserved Tourists (a much shorter line than the common tourist) and then ventured inside the Basilica.

Photographs, cell phone pictures and selfies are all banned, and silence is requested. Amazing, silence reigned apart from the tour guides who spoke softly. We all had our audio kits with us and had no trouble hearing her explanations.

Sorry, Chris, we are about to have a bit of a history session – The Venetians (before they became Italians) were very good at appropriating goods and chattels from other countries without permission. Of course, they lost the Mona Lisa to Napoleon when he conquered them and never got it back. However, the outside of the Basilica is covered with marble columns – just like the church at Pisa – which was removed from Constantinople without the Turk’s permission, along with a particular statue attached to the corner of the building. Also appropriated was much of the decorations used inside the Basilica.

It only took 50 years to build the Basilica shell, but over 200 years to decorate the inside of the building. The frescoes which adorn the top of the doors, and the inside of the inside domes were created using tiny tiles of 24 carat gold within glass, and tiny tiles with colours inside glass. Sound familiar? They truly are magnificent, and dazzle you when the sun hits in just the right place.

After the Basilica (there are over 500 churches within Venice, and almost every square has one) we wandered the byway and back paths with the guide and saw a side of Venice where the ordinary citizens live and work. Venice is a fairly expensive place to live apparently. A small two-bedroom flat cost approximately 1250 euros a month – very pricey.

Interesting Facts about Venice:

  • There are 417 bridges in Venice and 72 of those are private.
  • Bridges in Venice usually don’t have steps on them since up until 16th century many people were moving around on a horseback.
  • According to Venetian tradition, any couple riding in a gondola should kiss under each bridge and they will stay in love forever.
  • There are 3 major bridges across the Grand Canal – Accademia, Rialto and Scalzi. There is a fourth one, just a few years old, which already begins to show signs of decay, unlike the centuries old ones.
  • Each gondola is made of eight different types of wood.
  • The left side is bigger than the right one by 24 centimetres (almost a foot), and the parts of gondolas are symbols of some parts of Venice – front part represents six city zones, back part represents island Guideka, and the central part represents famous Rialto bridge.
  • There are about 350 gondolas and 400 gondolieri in the city of Venice.
  • On average, a gondola is 11 meters long and it weights almost 600 kilos.
  • Until recently, Venice didn’t have female gondoliers. Venice got its first female gondolier in 2010.
  • Venice is divided into six districts.
  • There are 118 islands, 416 bridges, 177 canals and 127 squares in Venice.
  • The Venice lagoon is 15 meters deep at its deepest point.
  • Feeding pigeons is banned in Venice (they are the fattest pigeons I have ever seen).

By the time we had completed all the walking involved in guided tour I have to say that Russ was looking a bit the worse for wear. So, we board our private boat for the trip to the Lido Island and those who were not continuing on to Burano (crochet lace and linens) all decanted and returned to the hotel.

Russ and I visited the supermarket next door and bought some fresh food for lunch and while he meditated (snored very loudly) I caught up on some of the photos and the blog.

Tonight we are to put our cases out as we go to bed, and tomorrow we head to Assisi.

2 thoughts on “Day 08, Tuesday, 19 April 2016 – Venice

  1. Lyn

    Glad to hear you are loving Italy so far. It is an awesome place – would go back tomorrow if I could. Maybe in a couple of years again with Lauren and Vince. Hope little brother your anxiety attacks have abated and IT does not come back.
    Glad your are both enjoying the Gelati (awesome – love the chocolate one)
    Happy 60th Birthday little brother – what a way to celebrate. Look afteryourselfs. I have printed off your epic novel and sent it to mum for her to have some bed time reading. Love ya

  2. Ann Cox

    Sounds like yr hol is amazing (glass breakfast for Russ though – not sure about that!!!).

    I love murano glass. Would never wear it though as I refuse to wear yellow gold and I have never seen it set in white gold. Quite happy to simply drool and admire it.

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