September 21st, 2008 – by: Stevie_Wes
Ghetto Nuovo Sqaure.
Okay, time to get a little bit more map-conscious today. Not much, but I wish to see a few of the more âoff the beaten trackâ parts of Venice and this requires eyes to the map to avoid too many prolonged dead ends and actually to avoid accidentally being drawn back into the main âtouristâ areas of the city. The weather today starts and remains fairly glum all day. A total contrast to yesterday, the sun to be hidden behind a fairly thick horizon to horizon sheet of dull-white cloud from dawn âtil dusk. However this makes strolling around cool and calming and besides, not one drop of rain falls throughout so The Sunshine Kid is forgiving.
First I get a Linea 2 vaparetto from Giudecca but head away from the direction of St.
Marco around some of the more functional, slightly industrialised main canal ways of the north-west corner of Venice to end up back at Ferrovia (the Train Station vaparetto stop). I then walk in a generally north-easterly direction to the old Jewish Quarter of town. The Ghetto Nuovo (New Ghetto) area. And yes this area whilst - I gather from reading - not the first area of a European city given over to the social (if not religious) exclusion of the Jewish community, it is the one that bequeathed the word âghettoâ to the international lexicon; a word more recently and now forever to be burnt into humanityâs collective memory as a result of the Polish ghettos established by the Third Reich and all the connotations therein. There are some poignant reminders to this tragic period of history within the communal area of Ghetto Nuovo.
Impressive glass sculpture in Murano.
This part of the city also being so far from tourist considerations you feel you are in the part of Venice that more truly is lived in and belongs to its people.
Well, it is relatively far anyway, or has a deceptive sense of being so anyhow. Venice is not a particularly large place but it feels like it sometimes because rather than ever walking as the crow flies you spend the entire time turning, circling, ducking and weaving, back-pedalling and doubling up on your routes. So many, many miles made up of tiny vein-like systems of streets radiating out from and back towards the heart-pulse of the principle canals, or arteries if you like for want of continuing the biological analogy. In fact the anatomical analogy works well for the deceptive sense of distance. No one single alleyway or âvialleâ may be that long but as with the pseudo-statistics Iâm sure weâve all come across in childhood education, Venice, the full extent of itâs lengths and surface areas are greater than the sum of its parts maybe.
(Remember biology from school? i.e. if you were to take all the alveoli branches from oneâs lungs, and spread âem out theyâd cover the surface area of 50 tennis courts or something like that; or your gut whilst ostensibly 25 feet or so long letâs say, would actually I dunno? stretch to the moon and back if the entire lymphatic system within it were laid end-to-end or something . Have I over-egged the analogy yet? Yeah. Good. Just trying to illustrate the mystery of Venice anyway I can peeps ;D I can but try and fail.
Mmmm... tasteful! A Murano glass chandelier.
Finding myself in the right part of Venice for doing so I use my Rolling Venice Pass to catch one of the Linea Nord (North Line) ferries (similar but larger than the vaparettos) to head out to sea and some of the smaller islets that constitute the fragmenting archipelago-like landmass of Venice as it splinters into the Laguna Veneta (Venice Lagoon).
There are a good number of these tiny little pockets of Venetian life but it is to first Murano and then Burano that I am interested in travelling today, the two most tourist-trodden spots, but for good reason.
Burano lace wear... now this I dig waaaay better than the glass.
Murano as you may be aware - or recognise from the name - is (world) famous for the particular technique and artistic style of glassware production that its residents and labourers have developed over the centuries. Consequently the entire of this little island (or those bits youâll find yourself in anyway) are near wall-to-wall glassware shops for tourists, and the occasional glass-blowing âfactoryâ or museum too. Itâs Sunday today so no blowers in action sadly.
Youâll make up your own mind of course but for my part I find almost all Murano glassware (now having been more extensively introduced to it than before) pretty vulgar and grotesque stuff actually (no offence Murano!). Most pieces and the traditional âlanguageâ of Murano glassware aesthetics involves a lot of very, very bright gaudy wreathes and splotches of colour melded and whorled together with often no compositional or aesthetic rhyme or reason into various table wares, decorations, chandeliers, animal sculptures and jewellery etc. Itâs so mixed up and rainbow coloured that frankly itâs headache (or nausea) inducing BUT thatâs not to say that there are not some extremely refined and more tasteful examples to be found.
Burano lace (abstract)
I stay in Murano only an hour or so. It and itâs sister island are small and without stopping for a meal you wonât need more than 2 hours tops on each.
And it is to Burano next that I head, stepping back onto an extremely crowded Linea Nord ferry. They only come every half hour so fill up pretty sharpish.
Burano, one of the several islets within the Ventian Lagoon area.
Burano, a picturesque little fishing-port makes itâs name, within tourism circles anyway, mainly from its production and sale of very fine lace wares and also for the very eye-catching colours of its pretty house faĂ§ades. In many ways, owing to the varying pastel-colours adopted for their homes by the Buranese (as I here now dub them) I am reminded of the beautiful village of Tobermory on the Isle of Mull (Scottish Western Isles) that I stayed in shortly before leaving for this trip. The colours and shapes, further canal ways and bridges make this an exceptionally attractive outpost of Venetian life - it shines through rainbow-like even on a grey old day like today.
There are some pleasant town squares to relax in and also beach, shoreline promenade areas as well as the sight of the islandâs famous church spire that leans precariously to one side. I garb a large chocolate pastry thingamy from a shop and am slightly staggered by the 5 Euro price tag it incurs. Toilets here (as over the whole of the Venezia municipality actually) are a wallet-busting 1 Euro a go! Cross them legs and donât think of water people! âWait!â how the heck can you not think of water when in Venice?! J
Burano, Venetian Lagoon.
The ferry journey all the way back to Venezia main (St.
Marco) is, I gather, complicated today by some boat regatta somewhere nearby (not sure where? it is never spotted) meaning an extremely circuitous journey back through the various Venetian atolls. It takes a relaxing but phenomenally long time. No worries. Iâm in no rush. Me and the sea. Happy, happy. I then float (upon my feet this time) in aimless contentment through the Venetian labyrinth once more as evening wanes and night begins to descend. The city by night. Beautiful of course. The Rialto bridge all in lights and the jewels and glowing displays of Venetian masquerade masks haunting you; seducing you in a myriad shop front displays. Time for a vaparetto by night down the Grand Canal. Believe me I could go up and down this stretch of water until I could almost begin to perceive the city slowly sinking by degrees before my very eyes.
Venetian street stall at night.
Utterly enchanting and a surprisingly balmy night given the glumness of the earlier skies. Today it will be night into which the city will shine so bright.
The Rialto Bridge by night.