Monday, January 28, 2008

Venice, winter (part 1)

This weekend, Matthew and I went to Venice to celebrate his birthday (January 25th). His birthday happen to coincide with the first night of Carnevale!! I found a one-star hotel close to the Rialto, and we caught a 4 euro train to Venice on Friday afternoon.
The ground was already covered in confetti, but we had to wait until Sunday before we saw many costumes and masks.
That night we got terribly lost and hungry tracking down an Indian restaurant. Once we got there though, things brightened considerably and the festivities for us officially began. The cook came out after we finished our HUGE meal and chatted with us a bit. She (we think) spoke English very well, wore salmon colored corduroy pants, and was so delighted to find that I was from Hawaii.
"I was just talking to my friends at t
he other table about how much I want to go to Hawaii this year!"
She apparently is an avid windsurfer, and has a friend who grew up on the island of Maui.

The next day we caught a water bus to the unappealing island of Murano. Thankfully, that wasn't our final destination. During our 10 minute layover, we hurriedly looked in the windows of a few shops and figured the island was probably more interesting when it is warm in the summer and all the shops were open.
BURANO, our final destination for the day, was positively delightful! It's a small, fairly untouristed fishing island about a 40 minute water bus ride away from St Mark's square in Venice. What makes Burano so interesting is that every house is painted in different bright colors. The colors of the houses follow a specific system originating from the golden age of its development; if someone wishes to paint their home, one must send a request to the government, who will respond by making notice of the certain colors permitted for that lot. This practice has resulted in the character of the island today.
Burano is also famous for lace.

With children running home for lunch, throwing their backpacks around, and a man sawing wood in his backyard, we got a sense that this is where the real people of Venice live.
We found a vacant picnic bench at noon, overlooking the Venetian lagoon and an adjacent island (Mazzorbo). There we enjoyed a beer we bought from a small grocery store in Venice: La Putena (the whore) from the Most Serene Republic of San Marino. It was a perfect afternoon.

80% of the Venetian lagoon is mud flats, tidal shallows, and salt marshes; 11% water (canals), and near 8% land. It's the largest wetland in the Mediterranean basin. It is, however, fairly artificial! It developed naturally 6-7 thousand years ago, however, if it were not for man's continual intervention beginning in the 15th and 16th century, the whole of the lagoon would be marshland, completely absent of canals or habitable land. The island we were on, Burano (0.21 km²), is kind of special. The peculiar position of Burano in respect to winds and marshes, saved it from the decadence and from the destruction that happened to other islands. It's being detached from the mainland, Burano avoided the plague of malaria quite normal in the lagoon islands which killed hundreds. Its position was also a natural defense from invaders. The inhabitants, century after century, consolidated and raised the ground, dug canals and built bridges, transforming a swamp into a lovely island which now holds 7,000 residents.

The sun was setting by the time we returned to Venice. Exhausted from the afternoon sun, a large lunch, and long walks on Burano, we fell fast asleep at the hotel room before dinner.

above is a short video.

1 comment:

Roam2Rome said...

Happy Birthday to Matthew!

Oh, I love Burano. I studied Italian Literature at the University of Padova 5 years ago. Pretty close to where you live right now, so I remember my afternoon trips to Venice :)