Murano and Burano: Twin Islands in Italy

Murano and Burano are really two bookends to a trip to northeastern Italy – especially when in Venice. It’s little more than a vaporetto trip to these islands, both heavily rooted with their own legends and traditions.

Murano holds all the certificates on glass making, but not just any kind. Many of the creations produced in glass workshops are exploded rainbows of color, shape and aesthetic. Several prominent glass sculptures are scattered around the island, which are large and ambitious, but what also draws visitors are those delicate glass beads used in a woman’s bracelet, a more subtle show of glass art. While water life is part of Murano’s fabric, it’s really the glass that dazzles.

Burano is all about it’s nautical roots, evidenced by “Essi” or “Bussola Buranello”, the S-shaped cookies found in nearly all the bakeries. Tourists assume the S-shape cookie is a Venetian sweet treat, but it’s shape actually means the compass of Burano. So for residents, there’s a double layer of meaning to a mere cookie. Like Murano, boats move slowly and methodically in the canal that splits the island in the middle, but what Burano is mainly heralded for are rows and rows of brightly painted homes and storefronts that pop with an exuberance, a playfulness that belies cynicism. Indeed, while walking around Burano, one doesn’t even want to walk at all, but skip to a swelling song sprinkled with sunshine and wide smiles. If you are into lace and not leather, Burano is also known for lace textiles, with several shops carrying anything devoted to lace, not just doilies.

By |November 10th, 2014 |Categories: Burano, Italy, Murano |14 Comments
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Venice Stops Your Heart

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I once read a TripAdvisor review about Venice. It read, “There’s nothing to do in Venice, except walk around.”

This tourist was missing the point entirely. That is Venice, utterly and to it’s core. A breathing, organic, museum city.

It’s the kind of place that shouldn’t have even existed when you break down how difficult it is to build on a lagoon and interconnect 118 small islands. Like Amsterdam, many buildings were erected on wooden pylons which has its own challenges with rising water and rotting wood.

“Venice is sinking” has been a term tossed around readily by the media, due to the constant shift of the sediments that many buildings sit on and that water I mentioned sadly keeps rising.

So to urgently tell you to see Venice before it floats off to the Po River is not far from the mark.

I compel you to stop fighting what some tourists call boredom or tourist traps and simply accept Venice for what it is. A fascinating, otherworldly experience.

I kept imagining ancient times of men flourished in dress and flamboyancy, women asserting their sexuality and freedom in subtle and coquettish ways — my head swimming with bawdy festivals and lavishly adorned Venetian masks.

By |September 22nd, 2014 |Categories: Culture, Italy, Venice |26 Comments
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Lovely, lovely Italy

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You’re going to hurl shards of glass and bitchy looks at me. For the longest time, I had an aversion to visiting Italy. There, I admitted it.

I’d find myself at the Milano train station, with the full intention to see Florence or Venice but then I’d freeze.

A faint voice originated from the arched ceilings of glass and light, carrying down, and then sonically landing in my ear. “Don’t go.”

It just never felt right at the time, so I’d book a train ticket anywhere else instead. Munich. Paris. Madrid.

It was unfair to Italy wasn’t it?  It’s not Italy’s fault.

Once I finally got there a friend sternly reminded me of something important: 80% of the world’s art is in Italy.

I think Italy has forgiven me, so it’s my mission to do it justice. Thus, I’ll give you a teaser of my time there, with more to come!

By |September 15th, 2014 |Categories: Italy |20 Comments
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UTC: In the Middle and Next? Russia

Oooh whee, where am I?  More importantly, where was I?

Italy

After my huge crush on Paris, it was time to move onto Italy.  I took an early morning train that zipped me across France into Milano, at the dead of night.

I booked myself into a bare bones hostel to grab shut-eye.  There ain’t much to say about this one, it was literally a boarding school style, beds ganged up against each other.

The only thing of note when you disembark a train at 10 pm in Milano was the use of benches at the platforms.

Round, and I mean, the kind of men who eat pasta three times a day, used these benches as a space to lay out and sleep. I saw several scattered across the platforms, happily snoring away, their shirts hiked up to reveal a jiggling belly.

Not exactly what I wanted to see at that time of night.

I got to my hostel, and literally passed out into my assigned bed.  Then woke at 6:30, opening my eyes to another large, Italian man beside me, chest heaving, whistling away like a freighter train in a hurry.

I couldn’t get away from them!

A consolation prize was trying my first Italian cappuccino at the Milano train station before departing.

My coffee palate will never be the same again.  I am ruined. Forever.

Next up: Verona.

Why Verona, you may ask?

Shakespeare says it best.

In Verona, I treated myself to ricotta and spinach pasta with a house, white wine.  Was deelish.

Seems this train trip is centered on food.