LA SERENISSIMA – October 2nd

Good Day! Sunshine! At Fondamente Nove, we board Vaporetto 12 for Murano, Burano, and Torcello, daytrippers on the blue-green lagoon. We glide past Isola di San Michele, the cemetery of Venice, where apparently your entombment will only last for a decade unless you’re Ezra Pound or Igor Stravinsky. We disembark in Murano, the famous island of glassblowing. Venice ‘exiled’ the industry in 13th century because of the risk of fire and it became a world-renowned industry. Its buildings are only two stories high, and the thoroughfares wide, so much more sky intrudes. Countless shops feature the same touristic shit. Scoff as we might, to our surprise we find Xmas gifts for both Kif and Alice.

We reconnoiter the island pretty quickly, where the glass museum is and where the recommended lunch place is. The Museo del Vetro covers the history of western glassmaking in general and Murano’s contribution specifically. Videos of the techniques are mesmerizing. Some examples of glasswork really capture the imagination, but quite a bit is just gaudy or clunky or both.

At this point, we’re running on breakfast fumes. In a square or ‘campo’ featuring a lame Chihuly ripoff of Lame Chihuly, is the Busa Alla Torre Da Lele, an outdoor café under yellow umbrellas. We snag a table after replenishing our cash situation. Both of us, hankering for clams, order Spaghetti alla Telline, assuming telline to be basically vongole except from the lagoon. Clam Surprise! Telline are micro-clams the size of your thumbnail. This presents a challenge we meet without comment. Delicious. I snap a shot of the pile of shells.

Slowly, we stroll back to the vaporetto stop for transport to Burano and Torcello. The boat goes to Torcello first. We disembark and wander up a brick fondamente of small canal with fields on either side. Torcello is home to the oldest church on the Lagoon, a Byzantine structure begun in the 9th century and completed in the 11th. It has a striking mosaic that covers the west wall – the Harrowing of Hell and the Last Judgment. Nothing murky here like so many frescos and paintings; the colors and imagery are bold, insistent. You are fucking damned.

There are pieces of random stonework in the yard in front of the church/basilica. Most prominent is a chair reputed to the ‘Throne of Attila’ – real or just a fucking photo op. We take turns, trying to conjure up the ‘Hun’ vibe to no avail. We have the documentation. Be aware of the upcoming Attila Off. Who is most likely to storm the gates of Constantinople?

Back at Aquamare, a little downtime, then dinner in the neighborhood. I’m determined to find the mysterious gelato and we do. We also locate the costume shop that designs for theater. Joss buys a mask that adheres to your face by way of the device you hold in your teeth. The gelatoria, La Mela Verde, has exotic flavors. I try pine nut, while Joss sticks with hazelnut.

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