The entire city of Venice is not actually contained on a single island, but through multiple islands that collectively make up the area we know as Venice. These islands, oddly enough, form the shape of a fish, like this:
Rialto bridge is located at the very center (the farthest right) of the canal running through the 2 major islands (pretty much the dead center of the fish). Saint Mark's square is in the lower crook of the fish, about where the "V" in "Venezia" is located.
One of the islands, Murano, is known for its glass blowing, and you can find Murano glass all over the main part of Venice. Burano, an island a little further out, is famous for its lace, but is also a very pretty town to visit for the day. Kathy, Jessica, and I took the vaporetto out to Burano for a few hours to see the area, and Christine stayed in Venice with Jameson. On the ride to Burano we passed by Venice's cemetery, which is completely isolated in the water. Ezra Pound and Igor and Vera Stravinsky are all buried in this cemetery, but I didn't get off the vaporetto to take pictures to add to my grave collection.
When the vaporetto pulls up at the only stop in Burano, you instantly know that this city is nothing like anything you've ever seen before. You know how there's always that one house in every neighborhood that's painted a ridiculously obnoxious shade of yellow or pink or something else that's 6 shades too bright for any American home? In Burano, every house is THAT house. It almost looks like you're on a movie set. The buildings are so bright and colorful that it all just looks fake.
I mean, seriously. It's like a crayola box exploded onto the walls of the house. That, or the entire family went along to Home Depot to pick out the paint color and nobody could agree on one single color. Can't you just see it standing there at the paint wall? "What color should we paint the house honey?" "I don't know, ALL the colors! I don't care at this point, just get me out of here!"
Most of the tiny island is set up exactly like this. One small canal running through the center, with boats parked on each side. Burano also has that small town feel, and doesn't seem to have the life that Venice has. All the tourists just come for the day, and there aren't any hotels or villas. In order to stay the night in Burano, you have to know somebody on the island who can hook you up with an empty apartment or room for rent, because there's just nowhere for tourists to stay.
The island is so small that pretty much every street gets a breeze from the ocean. Because of this, most of the houses had sheets over the doors to let the breeze in without exposing their house to all the tourists.
We ate lunch at "Trattoria Al Gatto-Nero," or "The Back Cat," which Sergio recommended as the best restaurant on the island and even called and made reservations on the water for us. After lunch it was time for some shopping, or in my case, more picture taking. There were really only 2 good lace stores on the island, where they actually make the lace items that they sell. They had ladies sitting in the store making the lace, and it was very cool to watch. It's amazing how intricate and precise some of the designs are, and they're all made by hand. Each lace-maker has a signature knot, and they pass the item to the next lace-maker for a different stitch when they're through with their design. For example, Christine has very simple Burano lace a table cloth that has 5 different types of stitching in it, so 5 different ladies tied their own signature stitches to make the final design. I'm not a big fan of lace, nor did I have €2,000 to drop on a lace wedding veil, so I went out and took some more pictures. (also, 2,000 euro would be displayed like this: €2.000,00 For some reason, the period and the comma are in opposite places, so a bottle of soda would cost €1,75)
One thing I liked about Burano was how different the sea felt from the main island. Burano is so far out that it is just completely surrounded by vast amounts of water, and it really felt like you were at the beach (minus the lack of sand and concrete sidewalks).
Didn't I just use Neverland Ranch as an analogy for the decor in Saint Mark's square? Did they know I was coming?? 2 people you can find all over the world: Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley. Yes. I found them both in Venice.
Minus the mop and broom, doesn't this just look like a postcard to some gorgeous place that you'd never actually visit but is pretty to look at? Oh. And the hydrangeas here are awesome. They're all over the place and I've seen blooming bushes taller than me!
"That (house) looks like it's been hosed down with Pepto-Bismol!" But it's still so pretty!!
I'm not sure what the reasoning was behind these next 2 photos. This was unique to Burano, and quite popular for some reason. They remind me of what I imagine Connie sees in the Philippines.
It's as if they're saying "In case my actions don't show my religious beliefs, let me just stick some life-size Madonna and Jesus statues outside my home to clear up any confusion." The people in the second picture were smart though. The awning to protect the obviously fake but very life-like statue from the sun and rain may seem unnecessary, but if you've seen my statue pictures, you know what that awning is really for. Lady madonna here has made it to the page not for being a bird perch, but simply for her extreme amazingness. On the other hand, I couldn't pass up this photo op in Saint Mark's square:
I needed a bigger lens or panoramic capabilities in order to fit all the birds in one picture. I think I counted 6 in a row. All facing the same direction!
All in all, Burano was a beautiful island, but not one that you'd spend much time on. There wasn't really much to it, and there wasn't anything to explore off the beaten path. There weren't really any campi or piazzas, which was unusual, and other than take pictures, the only thing to do was shop. Burano is a "been there, done that" town, whereas Venice has so much that you could never uncover or experience everything it has to offer.
Today my favorite thing about Italy is: The smells on our walks in Santissima. Christer's out of town so we've had the car all week, and we've gone to Santissima the past 2 days to take Levi and Jameson on a walk. There are these huge trees that have millions of tiny little white-ish and brown buds and they smell soooo good! Almost like a sweet jasmine without the knock-you-over strength. If you look up into the trees you can see tons of Italy's enormous bumblebees busying about from flower to flower.