While recently shopping at a Home Goods store, I heard a lady say to another, this is only $9.99 and it’s Murano. Ten bucks isn’t bad, is it?
My head spun! I had to see her eyes, I had to recognize for myself that she know not what she just said. I had to see this person who just cheapened this piece of art that has years and years and years of artistry in its making. Murano glass owns, in my heart and soul, a very profound, beautiful, and cherished space; it isn’t just beautiful glass. It is a civilization, a history, and a lifestyle down to the very core!
Visiting Venice is, when experienced with an open mind, full of wonder and drunk on history and culture, an overwhelming experience! Venice is another post, but the island of Murano is one I have to request your attention to. Murano itself is a numbing experience, but to nourish oneself with the pampering of including the island of Burano in the same day’s visit, is a satiating indulgence in history, culture, and societal respect.
The Island of Murano is literally a civilization. The glassmaking originally began on the island of Venice, but due to the fire hazards to the nearby wooden structures, in 1290 the Venetian Republic insisted that the glassmakers move to the island of Murano. Over time, the glassmakers of Murano became the pilars of society. They were so regarded that they were protected by the Venetian state, granted the right to wear swords, and forbidden from leaving the island. Being a glassmaker was an honor; it set one apart from the ‘rest’. It was a talent that earned the inscription of ‘expert’. Forever, the master of making glass.
I was not being ‘toured’ by my guide. I was being enshrouded into a society of pride and dedication; so far beyond dedication and hard work that I don’t know if it can be compared to anything here in the states. Imagine a skill, talent, and work ethic that is handed down for hundreds of generations; not a birth given right or entitlement, but an honor to be included due
to the skill, commitment, and the upholding of values to a testament of the pillar of the community? Murano glass is a culture of dedication.
The men working the glass were in tense focus; they barely spoke, understandably. Every ounce of their being at that moment was in tuned to the ever so subtle movement that formed the creation that would be engraved with the honored stamp of ‘Murano’, and sold throughout the world as Murano Glass. Their technique was without error.
The glass is mind blowing, pardon the pun! From the smallest of beads to the most grandiose of chandeliers, to the transparent, colorless sculptings to the magnificent arrays of colors and shapes that are miraculously transformed at the culmination of fire and talent. Murano cannot be missed, nor should it ever be dis-respected.
And then, there is a ‘Cherry on Top”. Burano!
Now that your mind is open to the exquisite dignity owed to the glassmakers, attempt to expand by one more breath to the lace makers. What the glassmakers due with fire, the beautiful and humble lace makers of Burano do with the finest of thread and the smallest of needles. I’ve never seen lace turned into creations such as these. I love beautiful things around me and I have an eye for the ‘finer’ things. So, when I say that the lace creations were beyond belief, I was literally in awe of the talents of these women in their ‘lace’ artistry. I could have bought a lace creation for each room of my home, and gifts for all my loved ones.
There were creations from baby clothes, to intimate wear, to pillows, to linens, to wall hangings, to wedding gowns and attire for the whole wedding party, and to decorate rooms in one single lace theme. All colors, unbelievable designs, and from the softest to the touch to the most durable of knots. But beyond just the beauty of the lace, the lace makers were surprisingly personable. They wanted to know what I liked and why, what didn’t jump out at my and why. They wanted to know what my home in the U.S. was like, and they would show me a personal creation that through my description, they felt would fit into my decor. Describing a home in the U.S. that is so utterly opposite of their home on a little bitty Island in the Venetian Lagoon, is not easy in broken Italian, and limited English. But we made it work. I felt like I was leaving BFFs when I walked out the door.
The gondola meandered through the very tight canals of Burano, showing the array of colors of the houses, stacked perfectly against one another, beyond the colors of the rainbow. There were colors I’ve never seen on a house. From periwinkles to tangerines, from lemon chiffon to Tuscany red. The vast arrangement of hues was to enable the fishermen hundreds of years ago a manner in which to identify their home upon returning from late night work; fishing. Today, in order to paint one’s home, the owner must request permission, in writing, to the Venetian state to change the color. This is an island of pride and personality. Everyone knows everyone! No one haggles for your business, they guide you to the friend who sells exactly what you are looking for. They are honest, hardworking, and creative. They want to get to know you. They are intuitive and inquisitive, helpful and sincere.
The final stop before the gondola was being called to return to Venice, was the Trattoria Buranella for the ‘risotto de go’ (goby fish) and gelato. The cool and always tasty gelato was first, followed by the creamiest risotto I’ve ever had; the perfect inner warmth I needed for the cool and damp, absolutely romantic, quiet and introspective trip across the lagoon to the canals of Venice. Ahh, another day in Italy, and another first. Another chance to put what I have learned abroad into my work in the U.S., and to completely appreciate a different land and all it has to offer, and from where it has come. Murano and Burano are islands of pride, extreme work ethic, and a diligence to uphold the integrity and traditions of hundreds of years of success. Until next time, Buon Giorno!