A Week-End in Murano

March 5th, 2015

Bee and I go away each year for her birthday.  In 2014, I surprised her by signing us up for a walking (trekking) tour in the Dolomite mountains of northern Italy, something she had said repeatedly we should do.  That trip was already published on my blog last month.

Our trip started on Sunday from Venice and since there is a late flight from Brussels to Venice, we decided to leave after work on Friday.  We would arrive very late, in August, at the airport and I did not want to have to fight the crowds in Venice itself.  Looking at the Vaporetto Line from the airport into Venice, we noticed that the first stop was in Murano, and thus decided to stay there instead.  It would give us one full day and one half day to wander around before we had to meet the rest of the group.  We did not go to Venice itself at all on this visit.

Early Saturday, we started to explore Murano, which I knew a little from my previous trips to Venice and always enjoyed.  However, the previous visits were fleeting since I was staying on the ‘main’ island and I was looking forward to spending more time, and especially the evening in Murano as well.

Throughout the island there are glass statues, or monuments from local artists.  I particularly like the contrast between the very modern Glass Comet (the sculpture is called La Cometa di Vetro by Simone Cenedese) and the 19th century clock tower built on the foundations of a much older 12th century church steeple, long gone along with the church.


Around the corner, we ran into a lovely old house – what I like most about Murano is that it still has a human scale and feels suburban compared to Venice.  This old house is surrounded by a garden and a majestic garden gate – you would not see something like this in Venice any more.


The back of the Chiesa dei Santi Maria e Donato (Church of the Saints Mary and Donato) – this is one of the oldest churches in the Venice lagoon, originally built in the 7th century with known restorations in 9th and 10th centuries, possibly some even later.  Known for its 12th century mosaic floor.  It houses small bones from St. Donatus of Arezzo and larger bones from a ‘dragon’ that the saint is reported to have killed.

The back of the church has a definite Moorish look, and so do the decorations inside.


The garden in the back of the Glass Museum gives a good view of the Campanile of Santo Donato (short name for the church above!)


A typical canal in Murano – this is suburbia – there is a three boat porch in front of every house – sorry, no cars.


Another glass sculpture near the Murano light house.  I have not been able to find what it is called or who built this – just think it is very nice!


From Murano, we took a vaporetto to Torcello, another island in the Venice Lagoon.  There is one and only one reason to go to Torcello, but what a reason: the Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta di Torcello and next to it, la Chiesa di Santa Fosca – OK, so there are two reasons to go to Torcello.

The Chiesa di Santa Fosca, seen below on the right, is from the 9th century and is circular rather than octagonal as many churches were built at that time.


The Basilica, seen above on the left, is even older, from the 6th century and the inside is magnificent – unfortunately, one is not allowed to photograph the inside!

There are mosaics to rival those of Ravenna and even those in Sicily (Palermo and Monreale) – I am very glad we did the extra leg with the vaporetto.

We then went back to Burano, third island in the lagoon, known for laces and pastel painted houses.  I think there are only five colors allowed in the city.


We really enjoyed Burano even if our visit was interrupted by heavy rain.  We took refuge in a Gelateria and watched the crowd go by.

On Sunday, before heading for the airport and meet our group for the trek, we went to one of the few Glass factory open at this time of year.  Unfortunately, August is a vacation month in Italy and this is the time that most furnaces are shut down for maintenance – they normally are kept hot all the time.  We found one place where we could get a demonstration early on Sunday.  The artist did a vase and a horse standing on his hind legs in less than 15 minutes!  He probably had done that before, a few times…


On Saturday evening, we ate at a local restaurant called Alla Vecchia Pescheria, in this small square and noticed the street lights.  This is actually a work of art that was already on display in preparation for the Venice Biennale later in the year.  Embracing Lights!


Later on Sunday, we went back to the airport and met the group with whom we are going trekking.


We stayed at the hotel Murano Palace – very nice place with a friendly owner.  The hotel faces the main canal not too far from the vaporetto stop, but the entrance is actually in a small alley and not that easy to find.  If you plan to arrive late, as we did, you need to let the owner know and he will meet you when the vaporetto arrives.

We ate at B-Restaurant – Alla Vecchia Pescheria, just down the street from the hotel and the chef is the son of the owner of the Murano Palace.  It is located on a small square called Campinello della Pescheria, just off the canal.  Very good and friendly service – the advantage of staying in Murano is we had the place almost to ourselves, with just a few locals.

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