June 10, 2016
Every day after class, we are allowed a bit of free time. A few of us decided to take a break from our studies and travel to Venice for the first time. The forecast called for rain; however, this did little to deter us from our intended journey. Some of us will be returning home at the end of next week. Who knows if we will ever return to Italy, so why not take advantage of the opportunity? My expectations of Venice were pre-filled with images of gondolas, tourists, familiar landmarks from Hollywood film, and vintage postcards. My main purpose for traveling to that specific region was to catch up on shopping for gifts for family and friends; and to visit Murano, a tiny island just off the Venetian coast. Murano is famous for its hand-blown glass products. You may have seen a few in the form of glass menageries, colorful paperweights, vases, abstract sculptures, or jewelry that resemble strung sea glass. I was hunting for the latter. There are different styles: millefiori, crystalline, and enameled. I prefer the millefiori, which means “thousand-flowers”. The style reminds me of fimo beads I used to collect for jewelry making and other craft projects.
We traveled by train from Altavilla-Tavernelle, the town where the Academia is located. Upon arrival, the city did not disappoint. It was beautiful, even despite the cold and wet weather that tried to ruin our moods. We took a water taxi to Murano, which is basically a boat that travels the wider canals, ferrying people to various drop-offs throughout the city. When we arrived at Murano, we headed straight to one of the small workshops connected to the storefronts that sell the end products to eager tourists. It was exciting to watch the artists at work. A master artisan and his assistant quickly shaped the molten glass into horses, a vase, and a tropical fish. They made it look so easy. Some of us were invited to try our hand at blowing glass bubbles, while the rest of us cheered and took pictures. We visited the studio afterward and emptied our pockets of euros in exchange for the colorful glass adornments.
Venice was beautiful. The shopping, the eateries, the rush of tourists throughout Piazza San Marco in the city center, was a bit overwhelming. Although Murano is much smaller, much slower paced, and maybe not as exciting for some, it was a wonderful place I am glad to have had a chance to visit.