Good with words

Fear... distractions.... the efforts of a self-employed writer to pay the mortgage.... all that jazz.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Venice - Murano

Last Wednesday we took a water-bus out to Murano, an island off the north shore of Venice proper. This is where all the fancy glass comes from - it's been made there for centuries, and its glass-blowers spent a long time guarding new techniques from the rest of the world. If you've seen any Murano glass, it was probably in this hideously gaudy style.

But Murano now houses some stylish galleries and new artists creating simpler, modern pieces. We visited a glass-blowing studio and watched a man blow a piece of glass like a bubble until it popped, sending wafer-thin shards all over the floor. (He ushered us out quickly and gruffly - I wasn't sure we were supposed to witness the smash.)

I don't know if they were all bad-tempered in this glass studio because, once out the door, we were invited upstairs to view the proper glass. A salesman in a suit unlocked a gate and welcomed us into the prestige rooms.... where huge vases and bowls were casually tagged with prices of £500+. "I can pack and ship any of this to England," he smooched.

We followed quietly, gaping at the outrageous pricing (I did wonder if they have an "Inglese" room, an American room, and an Italian room...) and trying not to point or openly marvel at any of it in case he pounced with the hard sell. As we moved through another and another room, the salesman became more stroppy, finally stamping into the last room: "This is my last room, and then downstairs are gifts," he announced abruptly. We meekly followed him downstairs (did he really think we were secretly wealthy?) and he waved his arms dismissively at the glass gifts. "You like small things, and small prices," he shouted, and stamped off to the back of the studio, leaving us to look at the miniatures in peace.

After that we were slightly nervous about actually going in to another glass shop, so we contented ourselves with window-shopping. As well as the island's gorgeous 10ft Christmas tree in coloured glass (too pretty to take down in january), these window-boxes were filled with glass-replica daffodils and tulips: I can only imagine that the people living in Murano aren't as clumsy as I am!


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