Today, we traveled back to Venice, but not as far as St. Mark’s Square this time.
Right off the train, we headed for the water bus for the short trip to Murano.
Murano was the center of the Venetian glass-making industry. The city moved the glassworks to the other set of nearby islands for fear of fire burning Venice to the ground. You can read about the history of Murano glass here.
That said, as is the case with the Burano lace, there’s no lack of counterfeits and pretenders. In fact, as we were wandering, a television crew was out taping a segment for something on just that issue (the reporter was speaking English, but was Italian. He was rehearsing his open, and trying various versions, switching between “counterfeit” and “fake,” and since he consistently stumbled over the former, the agreement was that he should just say, “fake.”
The calles leading from the vaparetto stops are lined with glass shops, naturally enough, many featuring quite stupendous large pieces on display – elaborate chandeliers, life-sized Charlie Chaplains, and so on. Some shops are stuffed with goods that you can find at any tourist trap glass shop from Pigeon Forge to Panama City (well, that’s not very far, but you know what I mean), and those usually have a good stock of Carnevale masks, too.
Why did I take no photos of shop windows? I have no idea. It’s just something that never occurs to me…sorry.
But the real thing is there – authenticated in various ways, including the official “Made in Murano” signs and labels (but in Italian) and assurances that while perhaps this shop’s prices are higher, it’s because they only have Murano – not Chinese – glass.
There’s more to Murano than glass shops – there are some churches, a glass museum, and quiet streets on the lagoon….it’s probably crazy in the summer, but this November Tuesday was warm, breezy and peaceful. Since we got a late start, our visit was fairly lame. We didn’t do the glass museum, and S. Maria e S. Donato – supposedly the loveliest church on the island – was closed for the afternoon until 4. But it was enough for an afternoon., especially on a day before another transition.
And how is this trip done?
1. Tram from nearest stop to the apartment to the train station.
2. Check for next few trains to Venice. Pick one that has a 3.50 fare (the bigger, faster trains have fares of 14.50 and up). Pay for one adult and two children – 7 Euros total.
3. Ride on train for about 40 minutes.
4. Get off at Venice S. Lucia train station along with all the other tourists hauling their suitcases (they got on at the previous Venice stop, at which they arrived from the airport)
5. Go to waterbus stop, find next bus to Murano. Buy tickets – they are pricey – 7 E for each trip, even for children over 10. But, you know…what choice do you have? Are you going to swim? (Longer term visitors would probably get transportation passes, but at 18E for a 12-hour pass, it didn’t make sense today, when I knew I would only be buying tickets twice).
6. Stand on floating bus stop. Immediately be besieged by Italian high school students, whose teachers instruct to step back and allow the Signora and the bambini on the approaching bus first.
7. This bus is the 4.2. It makes several stops on the way, and takes about 30-40 minutes.
8. Arrive at Murano, spill out and wander. Stop at every store (it seems) and have tiny glass animals pointed out to you.
9. Since you don’t carry a timetable with you, you’ve learned to study the timetable upon arriving in a new place, checking to see when the returns are scheduled. You’ve noted this, and you return to the water bus stop a couple of hours later, at the appointed hour.
10. For once, you’re correct about the appointed hour, except you won’t be taking the 4.2 back this time -you’ll be taking the 3, which is an express back to the train station, with no stops. This is a huge relief, because upon approaching the floating bus stop, you see (of course), the exact same group of high school students with which you arrived. This bus is more crowded, having a slew of passengers already aboard. You get on, but not all of the students do. Much gaiety as those lucky enough to get on scream Arrivederci! and Ciao! at those left behind.
11. Get to the train station, vacillate because, well, do we really have to go? Yes, we do, because we’re moving on tomorrow, so we need to get back and get ready…purchase another 7E worth of train tickets, get back to Padua, hop on the tram, and there you are, safely back.