Thursday, April 27, 2017

VENICE 2017: The Mazzorbo and Burano Islands

After lunch in Torcello (last post), the farthest-out island in the Venetian lagoon, we hopped on the vaporetto to the nearby islands of Mazzorbo and Burano on our way back to Venice.

You can see how close the 3 islands are:  Torcello, Mazzorbo and Burano.

It so happens that the lesser-known Mazzorbo is linked to Burano by a footbridge.  And since it was right at the valporetto stop, we decided to visit it first.

It's tell-tale landmark is the bell tower of the Church of St. Michael Archangel from the 11th cent.

The tower is smack-dab in the vineyard of the Venissa Estate
The bottom-right image is looking back from Burano later, so nearby.

It's a walled vineyard of 5 acres, whose Medieval walls were restored in 1727 (top row).
From outside the wall we looked back to the church in Torcello from that morning (center row)
...and then to Burano back across the wooden footbridge (bottom row).

There was more to see in Mazzorbo but it was enough to say we did it.
It was Burano we had stopped to see.

Remember how we had seen it from the bell tower in Torcello that morning?
These islands are like sisters, holding close to each other.

As you probably know, Burano is most known for it's small, brightly-painted houses.

The colours 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 colours permitted for that lot.  --Wiki

Can you imagine living there?  I hope you're not color-blind!

Who knew you could do so much with color.

Impressions.  Always impressions.

And lots of lace!  Burano is also known for its Murano is known for it's glass.
Lace-making revived in 1872 when a lace-making school was opened.
But few have continued the time-consuming and expensive tradition, though much lace is still sold.

Of course, the tilting church tower of the 16th cent. Church of San Martino beckoned.
The 53-meter tower was built in the 17th century.  It was hard to miss!  

Lucky for us, the church was open.

We were especially glad to see Mother Teresa (top-right).

What is it about living near the water like this.  
It grows on you, as we can attest from where we live here in the Netherlands.

But nowhere will you probably ever see such concentrated color, not even in the Netherlands!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

VENICE 2017: Torcello Island and the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta

As you surely know by now, Astrid and I tried to see every possible place of interest while in Venice during our 7 days. Torcello, the island farthest away and to the north of Venice, was one of our highlights.

It took us an hour on the vaporetto to get there.
(Wiki image)

To save our feet, knowing it would be a long day, we opted to sit inside to view what passed us by.
There are over 50 islands in the Venetian Lagoon, many of them only as big as a postage stamp.
When you finally see Torcello (bottom-right) you see why we went there.

From the vaporetto stop, there's only one way into the "village," population 60+/-.

The main drag, passing the cafés and 2 hotels, eventually gives view of the cathedral's bell tower.

But before you get there, you can't resist what I called the White House (a restaurant)!

Then you see it/them:  first the Church of Santa Fosca (center with dome) from the 11th century,
and next to it the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, with bell tower, founded in AD 639.
It's the oldest building in the Venetian Lagoon.

While purchasing our tickets, we discovered the bell-tower bells would strike noon in 20+ min.,
so we opted for climbing the ramped staircase of the bell tower, before entering the cathedral.
We made sure we were back down before the bells chimed because they were loud.
In fact, they warn you 5 minutes ahead of time before each hour.

But what a view from up on high!

We could even see Burano with its tilted tower, the island we would visit later that afternoon.

Down from the bell tower, we finally entered the Byzantine cathedral, a basilica.

The marble columns are from the 11th century.
The rood screen separating the nave from the chancel area...I wanted to know more.
The skull of St. Cecilia....

Behind the rood screen is the main aspe with its 11th cent. mosaic of the Virgin and the Apostles,
and its marble mosaic floors (where I saw a quilt!).

The present basilica is from 1008, but the marble pulpit is from fragments of the first 7th c. church.
On the west wall, over the main door, is the huge mosaic of the Last Judgment (12th century).

[No photos were allowed inside, which explains why I have so few. surreptitiously taken behind Astrid as my shield.
I can mention in comments why I "disobey" these rules, if you wish.]

Outside in the courtyard are Roman relics galore.
It's believed Attila the Hun used the marble seat as his throne (bottom-center) in the 5th century.

So many things to outdoor museum.

We even walked around to the back of the complex where we got the bell tower in the sun.

The bigger picture, indeed!

By then it was time for lunch, at one of the cafés we had passed on our way in.

And then we were off to the nearby islands of Burano and Mazzorbo (next post)....

Thursday, April 20, 2017

VENICE 2017: The Chimneys

How about something none of us expected!  I guess when you're always looking up for weathervanes...but don't find're happy to notice what IS there.

So I collected them!

How can you not be mesmerized!

Almost as elegant as any ornamental tower.

Don't you love the tiny roofs?

These were at the end of our wee canal near our B&B.
They remind me of trumpets tooting their horns.

I know.  Silly me.  But I had to collect something!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

VENICE 2017: The Gondolas and Gondoliers

There's just waaaaaaaay too much to show-n-tell about Venice (and Verona) without tackling it willy-nilly, if you don't mind, going with whatever strikes my fancy in the moment.

In this case, it's the gondolas and gondoliers.  Since we saw them every day in Venice, it makes sense to make a separate post of just them, to give them context.

First of all, our mode of transportation throughout the week was by vaporetto/waterbus.
At €60 each for 7 days, we could hop on-n-off at any time, anywhere.
That's when we saw most of the gondoliering in action...passing them while on the vaporettos.

We're talking about on the Grand Canal, of course.
It's 4 km long and can handle a lot of gondolas.

You'd expect certain landmarks, like the Piazza San Marco, being the gondola hubs.
The gondoliers thrive on tourist attention at such places.

It's hard to miss them.

But they're also at lesser-known stops...

lying in wait.

I suppose it's like taking care of one's car?

Except for when it rains and you have no customers.
But you still have to protect your asset!

The maneuvering comes with practice, of course.
Practice makes perfect?

Speaking of which, traffic can be a challenge, even if you're talking only about the gondolas.
But of course, the gondolas have to share the Grand Canal with everyone. 

On our walk of the Accademia area we just happened upon the squero/gondola boatyard,
next to the Church of San Trovaso, the only place where gondolas are now made and repaired.
In Venice's heyday, 16th century, there were 10,000 elegant gondolas plying its waters.
Today there are 350-ish, from a profession passed on from father to son.

And daughter?  We also happened upon this female gondolier,
one of two official female gondoliers in Venice now, she said.
To become a gondolier, you have to be licensed, passing theory and practice exams.
It's considered a high honor.

Someone asked us the other day if we did anything romantic while in Venice.
In a past life, I did, in fact, have a gondola night.
But Astrid and I had no inclination to treat ourselves.  Just call us cheap (at €80/30 min.)?
Or maybe it's just that we really did have more fun watching...instead of being watched!

[In case you want to know more about gondolas and gondoliers, you can read it here.]