We were up, breakfasted and out of the hotel on schedule. First stop, petrol station to fill up the car before leaving it at the airport. Go to the airport petrol station which is unmanned at that time on a Sunday morning and refusing to take foreign cards of any description — which means cash only. One problem with this — it only takes 20 euro notes — the five euro note slot is blocked — wonder if someone else tried to put their card in it?

We are told of several other petrol stations in the area and make our way to the first, the second, the third — all have the same problem — one petrol groups computers have obviously crashed overnight or are off-line for some reason. There is utter pandemonium as people get more and more frantic trying to fill up their cars — at the end there is a convoy of about 30 cars all trying to do the same thing — all of them with flights to catch.

We fill ours up until it will take no more — pass two and a half Euros credit on the pump to the next guy and make our way to the airport — our valuable time is ticking away. We park the car and run for the ferry terminal. The English woman in a hat is about to take on Venice!

We arrive at the ferry ticket office and ask for the ticket we want — only to be told they don’t sell that ticket here I have to go back to the airport.

I say WHAT?

I then take out my copied bits of paper from the computer and ask if this is the desk for Alilaguna lines, he nods, and you sell day passes, he nods again and then goes on to say this is only for our line, you cannot use these on any other ferries, to which I reply I know — I have it all planned out, now please sell me two-day passes so I can catch that ferry waiting to leave in two minutes over there.

Eventually, he sold me the day tickets I wanted — these were important as they saved us a two euro surcharge on each leg of the journey.

Luckily, there was plenty of room, the windows opened which meant clear view photography — if you got the right seat.

With an over zealous revving of engines we set off, it was good to be back near water — I love the sea — it was a joy to smell salt water on the breeze again.

That is all we smelt.

For now.

We all instinctively ducked as the planes came into land over our heads — they sounded a lot closer than they were.

Yes, I could live here. I can but dream — private island with beautiful villa.

The heat was already making the distance hazy — I had been hopeful of a clear day to take distance shots approaching Venice as I had been told this is one of the best views you can get.

No joy in that department.

As we approach Murano, I can feel my sense of excitement building — I know this is going to be the highlight of my day. I have had a love affair with glass as a material since I was a child and my mother bought me home glass animals from her travels overseas — including Murano. As an adult, my appreciation broadened, first to paperweights and onward to glasses, vases and sculpture.

Murano is a series of islands linked by bridges in the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy. It lies about 1.5 km north of Venice and measures about 1.5 km across with a population of just over 5,000. It was once an independent colony — it is now part of Venice.

Murano was initially settled by the Romans. The island prospered as a fishing port and through its production of salt and evolved into a thriving trade center. It developed as the center of Venetian glass making in the thirteenth century after Venice expelled all its glass workers and their foundries because of the not insignificant fire risk they posed to Venice.

In the following century, exports began, and the island became famous, initially for glass beads and mirrors. Aventurine glass was invented on the island, and for a while Murano was the main producer of glass in Europe.

Murano’s glassmakers were soon numbered among the island’s most prominent citizens. By the 14th century, glassmakers were allowed to wear swords, enjoyed immunity from prosecution by the Venetian state, and found their daughters married into Venice’s most affluent families. While benefiting from certain statutory privileges, glassmakers were forbidden to leave the Republic.

However, many of them took the risks associated with migration and established glass furnaces in surrounding cities and farther afield — sometimes in England and the Netherlands. Some of the worlds most famous glassmakers still have factories in Murano.

We disembarked, checked which jetty we would leave from for the next stage of our trip, and we were off — glass heaven!

There are dozens of these cheap and cheerful cluttered shops interspersed amongst the more refined galleries and showrooms.

Glasswork is everywhere — here is a huge black glass sun:

A Steampunk cafe theme with amazing light centerpiece:

All of this before we crossed over the canal:

Where we spotted this beauty — a permanent outdoor glass sculpture called “Natale di luce in una cometa di vetro” (“Christmas of light in a glass comet”).

This blue glass sculpture has become Murano’s symbol of Christmas after it was made in 2008 by artist, Simone Cenedese as part of the annual Christmas Celebrations.

Almost out last stop before we adjourned for a quick snack was a glass shop owned by Davide & Penso who make some very unusual glass jewelry and offer courses on an individual or small group basis.

We watched for a while as a student/guinea pig sat next to him learning to work the glass — I was so jealous. A quick inquiry, and some literature later, now means I am saving up for an individual course. There are quite a few classes offered by both the Murano glass school and other factories, catering to all skill levels and all the different disciplines — from a first time “Blow” to the highest professional course there are.

Snack was devoured, treasures were bought then we had to run for the ferry — Venice awaited!

21 Comments

  1. Whoo-hoo! I LOVE YOU AND YOUR HAT! What a priceless and fun picture!!! I think you found your new Gravatar! SMILE!

    This is wild tour. From the Sky to the water to the island to the glass. Amazing imagery.

    The big chunk of spiky blue glass is an absolute wonder. Do they leave it outside every day and night? Is there any concern that it might break or crack?

    1. It is very rare – I much prefer to be on the other side of the lens !

      From what I understand this and another sculpture in red and orange glass of a similar size and nature started life representing huge Christmas tree ornaments . They are made to withstand heat and light as well as the cold and the damp. It has not been moved yet – although I would imagine they have some way of moving it if needed.

      I was very surprised that it had originally represented Christmas although it does resemble icicles in some ways – I was more ooh waves, water , they have turned the ocean into the sun how clever ……… oops !

      1. Well, I’m thrilled and honored you shared yourself in your new hat with us! What a super treat, thank you!

        The glass sculptures are just divine. It’s so neat an entire culture was created to make and preserve a vital hand skill.

        I can see the spiky Christmas ornamentalism in the design — I agree with you, though, that it looks more like a meteor from the sun masked by a blue sky.

  2. It still makes me feel very awkward – always has done.

    The designers are very cagey and protective of their designs – there are some amazing smaller works of art in all the galleries – but heavily enforced no photography rules – the shots I took were all taken with permission and were welcomed with the equivalent of “you are welcome”

    Yes I can see and iced meteor or ice queen in it too – but from my first glimpse it was always water I saw. Maybe that is what I wanted to see ?

    1. I’m completely with you on the awkward. I’m the same way. SMILE!

      Oh, that’s interesting they prevent you from taking photographs of designs. I’ve always found that a hard and impossible policy to enforce. It tests human ingenuity in an unwanted way. Ha!

      There’s definitely water in that beauty! I probably see more ice than rolling waves, though. Probably because the spikes remind me of Nebraska icicles — there’s danger in the points! You were surrounded by beautiful, yearning, water. It makes sense you incorporated the art into the emotion you were feeling.

      How much were they charging for the glass classes you mentioned? Do they teach by the hour or the project or something else?

      1. INTJ !!!!

        It is easier here , the building and therefore the rooms in the galleries are quite small and very well lit to show off the glass – but also a photographers nightmare – as you can see from the black sun picture ! They also use a lot of mirrors which create a kaleidoscope effect as well.

        Yes there is definitely ice in there too ……. I am used to ice and icicles being
        white.

        The courses vary in cost depending on what stage you have reached – there
        is a course that runs for three days on the last weekend of every month – have
        not looked at that ……. the one I was interested in is a one on one course – all
        day for novices that comes in at 250 euros a day. I would like to go for a one day taster to see how I cope with the basic skills and if my eyesight is good enough and then hopefully go back for a Monday to Friday later – one can dream !

        1. I love it! I think you’re smart to think about taking the one-on-one courses. Then you have the full attention of the master. What fun that would be — but could you do it alone on your own at home at an affordable price… hmm… SMILE!

  3. Well I figure you never know until you try/ask. Nothing ventured, nothing gained!

    I think there is certainly some scope for some glass work here given the sheds I have SMILE !

    I think I could almost certainly make beads and work with the rods to make jewelery components. I certainly do not have the funds or the space or ability to work with a furnace and be making objects out of blown glass.

    I am trying to be very open to ideas on this as I suspect I will be a complete klutz when it comes to handling the tools – so a one day course might satisfy my curiosity and save me from going down a dead end – or it could open up a whole new avenue for me to explore.

    Money is always the catch !

    1. Right! I think glassmaking is an expensive hobby — one rarely recovers from their mistakes.

      Magicians will tell you at every opportunity that practicing magic is the “second most expensive hobby” — and they hate it when they are always forced to “reveal” the “most expensive” hobby: Coin Collecting! SMILE!

      There’s an in-residence glass blower at our local Renaissance Faire — and she teaches as she makes — and boy is that a filthy, hot, nasty, job. She creates beautiful things, but I don’t think I’d be able to ever take the heat from the furnace all day long. It would exhaust me being that close to liquified sand.

  4. Love the magician story !

    I have the same feeling about glass blowing – even at the very sanitized highly health and safety conscious Darting Glass in England it was hot and dirty work – you could get heat exhaustion from just watching it.

    However doing bead work and working with glass rods as the student in residence was doing looked a lot more manageable , which of course what started me off on this tack!

          1. They’re both already created!

            Take up the challenge — woman and necklace recreated together — re-imagined by the wild Englishwoman in the pretty dress and fun hat! GRIN!