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"I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude." -- Henry David Thoreau
|Episode 31--Italy: Venetian Glass|
@ Where`s Cherie?
Aug 05 2002 - 16:29 PST
cherie writes: September 2000
Good thing Carter and I had umbrellas! Those Venetian storms can really rip you (and your umbrella) apart!
If you are lucky enough to see Venice at sunrise, you see it twice. First the dressed up buildings themselves, and then their colorful silhouette in the water below; the colors shimming in the ripples of the canal.
With bags draped under my eyes like curtains, and a mangy hair-do, I landed in what would become my favorite city in the world--Venice. We would spend the next several muggy nights in Venice, never knowing if the stickiness rested in the humidity or in our gelati fingers.
Arriving, I stared at Venice like an idiot. I couldn't comprehend it. The idea of it--absurd! A city built on water? The canals looked like rivers of chocolate milk with a layer of scotch tape holding them together. It made me wonder if it was gelatin, and I had an irresistible temptation to touch it and find out if it had hardened. The odd rumble of a water-taxi tore the water open and my question was answered: the Jello wasn't ready yet.
This was the boat the 13 of us would take to our hotel (Renee, Kristi, me and 10 pieces of luggage--most exceeding aircraft weight restrictions.) It wasn't until we boarded the boat, that I fully understood the insanity of a city with permanently flooded streets; a city thriving on a foundation of rotting wood poles.
As our taxi glided through the canal, I stood at the stern and watched the water mend itself in our wake. The water healed into a smooth piece of glass and folded itself into a neat hem where the houses began. Water-front property everywhere we looked.
We took the mandatory gondola ride, guided through the labyrinth of canals by an Italian with a long paddle and short pants. (We just traversed the same area with the water taxi, but we didn't pay enough)The steep $60 gondola fee bought us a slice of traditional Venice and a view of Casanova's old house where he romanced over a thousand women. He must have been charming, because ladies...it wasn't his house.
Venice is a city of bridges, which in turn make you invent reasons to go for a walk. We met up with Eric and Alston (last seen in Barcelona, Spain). There is nothing like exploring a new city with old friends. Eric is the artist who creates art that I am not cultured enough to understand (Kristi thinks she gets it, but she doesn't) and Alston is the artist who creates art that I understand very well...didn't I finger-paint the same thing when I was five? Just kidding Alston! Eric was handsome as ever wearing our gift of an apron with the naked David, on the front, genitals in exactly the right place! It would become his new art smock--a work of art creating a work of art.
Morano, an island famous for its Venetian glass, was our next stop where we watched men blow sculpture from blobs of molten glass. Of course we made the grave tourist mistake of buying heavy, ridiculously over-priced, highly breakable (and poorly packed) hand-blown glass to take home as gifts. Notice: If you don't receive your venetian glass at Christmas, it broke.
The next island was Borano, where colorful houses lined up at the water's edge like crooked teeth in a smiling mouth. It is a place that wouldn't know what to do with a "No Trespassing" sign. The island is famous for its hand-made lace; the place had more doilies than any respectable grandma would know what to do with.
I left Italy with a good taste in my mouth. I had to have one last hearty gulp of "Vino Santo" or holy wine. The alcohol content makes you think you are in heaven.
Next stop: Germany
Click on each picture to see it full size.
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