Venice Carnival… A Visit to the Islands of Burano and Murano

This morning I asked Jules to wake me up early (9:15 AM) because I wanted to spend the day on the islands of Burano and Murano, which are about an hour and a half ferry ride from Venezia.

The ferry deposited us, along with many other tourists, on the small fishing island of Burano.

Burano is a very picturesque island, which has simple canal houses, all painted in bright colors.

The effect of all those colorful houses, is very appealing, and many tourists flock to the island, for a day of great food and great photographs.

As a result of the flourishing tourist trade, there are plenty of places to get a good meal or a snack, shops selling clothing and lace work (no longer made on Burano, but imported from China), glass, and many carnival masks.

We strolled around having a fabulous time, joking and laughing until our stomachs ached…

We tried to imagine HOW Burano got its appeal, and how they agreed to paint all the houses on the island in bright colors….

We imagined that in olden time, Burano was just a struggling fishing village…
One day a quiet humble guy….. Let’s call him Luigi Guidecca… Saved enough money to go on vacation to the Caribbean islands or to Brazil, where he saw some houses painted in all the colors of the rainbow……

Luigi got up in one of the town’s annual meeting, and in a shivering voice…. He suggested that maybe…. It would be a good idea…. If they painted each house in the village……. in a different bright color….
After all…. Suggested Luigi… The houses aren’t as glorious and majestic as the beautiful ones in Venice…they are just small fishermen’s stone houses…. And maybe… If they painted the houses in bright colors… It would look SO GOOD….. That people will come from near and far……..as far as Japan and China… Just to see their village.

The people of the town probably told Luigi to shut up and sit down!
Who ever heard of such a stupid idea…..
A lime green house next to a shocking pink house…. Next to a bright red house… On the Venetian republic….what a crazy and insulting idea!….
Luigi sat down and quietly swallowed his tears of shame…

Fifty MORE years of economical depression have passed on the island of Burano… And as they do every year, the village had its annual meeting.
Someone finally suggested…. That maybe…. Luigi was right after all…..

Everyone started yelling…….a cacophony of loud noises and arguments arose….
When it all quieted down… People said that nothing was left to lose after all….. Maybe they should buy some buckets of paint and give this crazy idea a try……..

The old guys shook their fists in the air, saying that they will NOT do ANY work NOR were they willing to pay for the bright paint that they do not even want to go on their houses….

After the island was all painted, somebody took some photos and put them in a brochure which they distributed on Venezia,…. Suggesting to bring people for the day……to enjoy the freshly caught fish and the colorful houses….

AND…..the success has been overwhelming….
So overwhelming that today, in Burano….
You can hardly get a table for lunch….and you have to crop all the tourists with their huge cameras out of your photos…

We had a very yummy lunch at a small Spaghettiria, a place that specialize in pastas, and later we took the ferry to the island of Murano.

The island of Murano, is world renowned for its beautiful glass, which is still being produced on Murano, as it was for hundreds of years.

Glass production on Murano, started as early as the year 1291.

Large glass sculptures decorate the streets of the island, and the main shopping areas are crowded with shops and galleries, selling art work, jewelry, kitchen ware and gifts, all made from glass.

It is beautiful and inspiring, to think that you can take something as simple as SAND and mix it with a little pigment…and a LOT of HEAT…. And produce something so striking as these beautiful art glass….

It was getting late and all stores were closing, when we spotted a ferry leaving the Murano dock.

We had return tickets to Venezia, so we run to make the boat.
I called to ask the guard of the ferry, if it was going to Venezia, and he said “Si…..Si…”
So we jumped unto the moving ferry, through the narrow gate that he opened for us….and when we jumped over the water safely into the interior of the ferry, he called to the captain who promptly speeded up.

I never before jumped into a moving ferry….but I have to admit it was Mucho Fun… Sorry… It was “Molto Eccitante……..”
(I keep on mixing my languages…. I say “Arigato,” when I want to say “Grazi”……I mix my French and Spanish with fragments of Italiano…. But most people understand hand signals and we do quite well.)

Back on Venezia, we strolled along the quiet neighborhood of Cannaregio, looking for a recommended restaurant.

When we got to the main street of Cannaregio, it was no longer quiet, and instead we encountered a procession of a full force carnival party.
People were dressed in animal costumes, and wore all sorts of wigs and costumes, and the streets were packed to capacity.

Some people say that unless you are young and raucous, it is useless to come to Venice during Carnival times.
Accommodation is more expensive during the high season, and the crowds make it unpleasant.

It has not been an issue in our experience.
We rented an apartment, which has the same cost structure all through the year.

Because the young drinking crowd does not really have much interest in arts, or in fine dining, we had no problem getting reservations in any of the good small restaurants, nor did we have a problem booking concert tickets just a week before the events.

We had NO long queues in front of any of the museums, and no crowds inside them blocking our view of the art.

In addition, we got some fabulous photos of people wearing costumes, on the background of very picturesque Venice.

Would I come AGAIN, during carnival?
Probably not…..
It is a once in a lifetime experience….

I would come again to Venice ONLY during the low season, for the reasons I mentioned above……
Although….I have to admit that it was absolutely wonderful to see and to feel the energy of the place, when people recapture the spirit of childhood, and enjoyed so much parading in their creative costumes.

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