Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Burano and Torcello Don't Wear Gold Chains

Mr Tabubil and I have just returned from three weeks holiday – a week in Holland, so that I might see a bit of his country and meet his family, and two weeks together after that in Italy.  Right now, we're in Venice.

Burano turned out to be charming.  The rains stopped as we motored out of the Murano canals, and by the time we’d reached Burano, the clouds had lifted above her church towers and let through a little watery sunlight.  We could see clear across the island.
            Once upon a time, Burano was a fishing village. Today the Buranese commute to the mainland, or make lace and bake shortbread cookies, and live in square houses painted bright primary colors. 

It appeared that nobody on the boat was collecting commissions from the lace factories – on shore we were let loose to walk through the little town. The lace was impressive, but we decided that the cookies were an elaborate practical joke on the tourists.  We fed ours to a flock pigeons.  Who hiccuped and gave us looks of deep distaste.  

Because of the wet, the streets were mostly empty and we were mostly alone – the colors of the houses were extraordinary – 

Pink, and purple, and yellow, and blue, and green, and orange, and bright red and bright yellow.  Alone in the damp streets, with the rain  to muffle our steps, it was none of it quite real, like walking through a stage set after  the set-builders have left and before the cast has come on stage –

And then we went to Torcello.  Torcello was the first island to be settled in the lagoon. In the tenth century there were ten thousand people living here, and the island was a bright and dynamic trading center with a forward looking future ahead of it. In the 12th Century the harbor silted up and the population decamped to the islands that are now Venice.  Today the island is a long, empty stretch of tidal marsh, with a ruined 11th century basillica on the west side of the island (currently undergoing restoration) a small museum with a guard who liked his wet afternoons sleepy, thank you signori, and hid behind his desk when we knocked, and a few small houses with vegetable gardens alongside.  
            Sic transit gloria mundi, but after the close quarters of Venice, it was fresh and pleasant and we enjoyed ourselves very much.  And I fell down the rain-slick steps of an iron bridge and sprained my shoulder.  It's mostly better now.

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