Italy 5 – Venice, Part 2
Venice has a world renowned Carnaval every year, where masks and elaborate costumes abound. The practice comes from the Middle Ages, when only persons of Noble birth were allowed to wear masks. In an attempt to quell civil discontent, it was declared that peasants could wear masks and engage in debauchery one week of each year, immediately preceding lent.
A 15 minute boat ride across a wide, shallow lagoon to the island of Murano brings you to a collection of more than 40 glassmaking foundries. Some provide a demonstration of the art, as seen above.
Touring the foundries provides a glimpse into the art of glassmaking, as practiced in Murano. There is always a salesman on hand, telling you that they can take any design and make it whatever color or size you prefer. And, of course, they promise to ship anywhere in the world. Our next stop was the island of Burano (known for their lace), which was lined with trees and extremely colorful buildings along its canals.
One of the highlights in Venice was the local fish market located on the Grand Canal, where restaurants and housewives buy the freshest of fish for meals that day. The market is set up every day at 6AM, and shuts down at noon, whereupon the cleanup crew comes through and power washes the entire area, so there are no fish odors.
We love looking at the large variety of fresh fish at markets such as this, and this one was special with live music playing in the background. Even more though, we love watching the vendors and customers interact, with lots of hand motions describing the size and cuts.
People are always what make a trip interesting. We went on two different tours in Venice, first a "free" walking tour of the city (La Bussola Free Walking Tours led by Elizabetta upper left), and then a progressive dinner tour (Venice Bites Food Tour led by Adam and Maya, upper middle and right). We discovered that there are techniques for bar hopping in Italy, gentle yet aggressive to get space at the counter. Both tours were excellent and highly recommended.
We learned that there is a real cultural difference from America when dining out. In Italy, once you make a reservation, you have the table for the entire night, while in the US, restaurants want to turn the table as fast as possible, for more customers per meal. In Italy, the waiter will not hover and ask if you want something, such as the check. Instead, you flag him down as desired. Also, while it is acceptable to stay at the table long after a check has been brought in America, once you ask for the check, you are expected to pay and leave quickly in Italy.
We are actually in Italy because of Keith's birthday. Middle-right shows Keith being congratulated for having another birthday by his wife, Pauline, who is also Evelyn's sister. Lower right shows Keith, Pauline and Evelyn on a bridge, overlooking one of the many smaller canals.
As sunset passes, we have completed the Venice portion of our vacation. Next stop, Tuscany.