Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Clear as glass

Another little neighbor island jaunt yesterday - this time to Murano, known around the world for it's stunning glass. It is what one would expect - charming in its residential neighborhoods, fornace (furnace) chimneys competing with church steeples for domination of the sky, main thoroughfares filled with day-tripping tourists looking for "genuine" Murano glass souvenirs. Among the kitsch, there are designer showrooms with works of art both utilitarian and purely ornamental. Many of these designers come from glass-making families that go back centuries with names like Vennini and Seguso.

The Museo del Vetro (Glass Museum) is definitely worth a visit with examples of glass-making dating from the 1st Century A.D. to the present. Can you imagine paper thin drinking cups and toilette bottles surviving - many intact - for more than 2000 years?! Absolutely incredible. Examples of every technique and every technological advance fill the showcases - all very nicely displayed. I am partial to contemporary design and so lingered in the final sala which has a rich selection of work from the mid-20th Century on; many pieces were displayed in past Biennale. I've posted a link to the museum site.

Interestingly, my best little experience on Murano came not in a glass factory but at a very different kind of oven. On our way into the center of town Wanda had noticed a incredibly delicious shop window filled with big, homemade, typical Venetian baked goods. On our way back to the vaporetto - very hot and dog-tired - she insisted we stop for meringue as big as your head and assorted other goodies. The tutu at the counter was darling and as we turned to leave, I saw a gentleman - obviously her husband - standing in the doorway to the paneterria (bakery). He must have noticed my keen interest because he invited me to the "inner sanctum." A spotlessly clean, well-equipped, obviously very well-used bakery and I was in heaven - Chef Cheech, I wish you had been here! His name is Signore Marcato and he has manned his ovens for 51 years. His father before him and his father before him were bakers, too. And now his son is the one who comes in at the crack of dawn. I asked for a job, really, I did. He laughed and laughed and then said we could switch places - he'd come and bake in Hawai'i and I could stay and bake in Murano. Sounds like a plan to me. Signore's absolutely delicious handiwork to the left; the Baker and Bella down below with the rest of the photos.


1 comment:

lesagriff said...

Trust you and Wanda to find your ways into the inner sanctum! One story on the apprentice? Sounds like you've got a million stories. "A Year in Venice" sounds like a bestseller to me. Wanda, have a Bellini for me! I just booked my ticket...I'm going to Madrid for a few days to visit friends I haven't seen in a decade and then on to south of France to see my father whom I haven't seen in six years. ciao belli!