Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Last Days in Venice

On Sunday we took the Vaporetto to the lagoon islands of Burano and Murano, using our handy pass that allows us to hop on and hop off the boat. It was a lovely sunny day and many other tourists and Venetians alike had the same idea. The lagoon was dotted with boats of all types, filled with families or friends enjoying the sunny weather.
Burano is a small island known for the exquisite lace that the wives of the fishermen made during the long days of their husbands' absences. You do not have to like lace to appreciate the work that it takes to make these delicate lace pieces. It is hard to imagine straining your eyes for hours on end in order to make the tiny stitches required for the lace work. Tablecloths, serviettes, doilies, hankies, dresses, and other lace products are sold at every shop in town. But who uses doilies or lace tablecloths these days anyway? This is a dying industry, supported for tourists by the Venetian government. The younger generation of women is not interested in the painstaking work required to make lace. This island is also remarkable for the colourful little houses built by the fishermen. They are painted in bright shades of the rainbow, with flowers spilling from the window boxes above the streets.

We wandered the back streets and came across a whole section decorated with white ribbons, bows and flowers on every door step, in celebration of a wedding that day. This is a small village and it appeared that everyone was involved in the wedding in some way. Back on the main drag that was filled with tourists, we passed a big restaurant decorated again with celebratory ribbons and pictures of the married couple. Inside a typical Italian wedding feast was being served to a large crowd of people, probably most of the island residents, gathered to take part in this noisy, happy event. If we had been there an hour earlier I bet we could have seen them all parading through the streets of this car-less town. It would have been a special sight.

On our walk today we were stopped along one canal because a funeral had just finished in the little church on the canal street. The flower-bedecked casket was being lowered into a funeral barge while the family waited. Everything here is done in the open, and on the canal. Instead of a flower car and hearse, there are funeral boats. Being able to witness everyday life is another reason for slow travel. So, one wedding and a funeral...not bad!
We are now at the end of this trip. We have seen the sights, visited more museums, churches and galleries than we can count, and even seen how St. George had his arm and lance reattached on top of the church of St Giorgio. It had fallen off during a bad storm 10 years ago and waited a long time before finding a benefactor (Swarovski foundation) to pay for the reattachment. This is a delicate process for a statue that has been perched atop this church for over 500 years.

Pierre's map-reading has got us out of many dead-ends. We took one last long walk today, ate seafood in a cone, a Venetian specialty, snacked on tramezzini (Venetian equivalent of party sandwiches eaten standing up while sipping wine) and got lost one last time! We look forward to being home, reliving these many great moments. 

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