Beautiful isn’t it. This isn’t a picture postcard enticing you to visit Venice. I shot this picture at 8:00 PM on a Tuesday night in Murano. What is missing from this tranquil setting? A gaggle of tourists racing off cruise ships or stepping on each other’s sneaker shod toes to get a better selfie in front of this or that. That is what the historic center of Venice is like today. Why deal with that when you can enjoy the Venetian life style right here in Murano.
When I say Murano, I bet you say “Glass”. Yup this is the island in the lagoon that is famous for the production of incredible glass products and the preponderance of faux Murano glass made in Chinese factories. How do I know? We stayed on the island for a week, chatted with folks and visited different shops. Some shops even posted giant signs saying “Buy Murano Not Chinese.” We did buy but from folks that were actually working on products that we could see. Museo Del Vetro is a wonderful way to fully understand the glass business and see beautiful glass work. For cittadini anziani (over 65)the fee was only €7.50
The vaporetti crammed with tourists that dash from glass shop to glass shop roll in about 10:00 AM and the last shopping bag laden person seems to have disappeared by 5:00 PM. Those of you who read me know I have the patience of a gnat when it comes to tourists – loud pushy tourists. So how did I survive even six hours of a place chocked full of crazed glass shoppers? We stayed off the main canals and hung out where the real people lived. That is the beauty of Murano – once you move inland away from the major canals it is pretty tranquil all of the time.
Our hotel, Hotel Conterie, was on the quiet Calle Conterie, 21. We walked through a piazza to get there and saw children playing and people sitting on benches taking the sun. The hotel was clean, our room was a fair size and the staff was helpful. My knees had a hard time with the two and half flights of steps to our room. There is a hotel tax in Venice – for two people for 3 nights it was €22.90. The breakfast room used a SAECO self service machine. You know “push a button” to get the style of coffee of your choice. My morning cappuccino was a major disappointment. The steamed milk was obviously steamed chemicals. That said, I still liked the hotel. It was only a five minute walk, sans suitcase, to the vaporetti station. The boat buses run all night. From Murano it is easy to get around to the other islands. Venice Water Buses
In the piazza, I chatted with a local woman who said they loved living on Murano and working on the main island. It was a safe place to raise children and tranquil. She also pointed out a local bar/restaurant on the same sun filled piazza we walked through.
We wouldn’t have know that “Ai Bisatei” existed and were happy she let us know that the fare was local. We ate lunch there one day and paid about 50% less than the other restaurants charged near the main tourist driven canals. The lima beans with saor were wonderful. We found this yummy sweet, sour and salty condiment in lots of fare – it is simply onions that seem to have been sitting in vinegar. Of course we had to have the sweet wine with the requisite S shaped cookie. A grown up dunker. Hmmm.
Until we made local pals, it was a bit tricky to find restaurants that were open after the last tourist hopped on the vaporetto. We did find three restaurants that were open in the evening. The rest appeared to only open for lunch – high tourist time. That was a bit disturbing. Considering how small the island is and how most folks eat cena – the light evening meal – at home, it does make sense. Osteria al Duomo Pizzeria, Fondamenta Maschiop 20-21 (Osteria al Duomo) sat just across a bridge from Il Duomo and did a brisk nighttime pizza business. It was the first place I ate the traditional bacala mantecato – my new favorite lush and creamy way to have bacala. The price point was great too. We averaged €40 a night for dinner and wine. It was only a short walk from the hotel, we liked the food and the local people, so we ate there three times. We became instant regulars.
Can we talk about bars? In Piazza Roma – Pontelandolfo – tables and chairs in front of every bar announce that this is the place to grab a coffee, wine, nosh and chat with pals. One morning, not wanting the crappy hotel cappuccino we went searching for a bar and a brioche. We walked and walked until 10:00 not seeing one chair in front of one building welcoming us. At ten, the tourist spots on Canal Grande di Murano and Canale San Donato starting putting out their chairs. I went into one small bar, ordered due cappuccini and asked where the early morning bars were. Turned out that one opened at 7:00, one at 8:00 and this guy at 10:00. Unless you lived there you would never know it. We did find a bar, in a kiosk, near where the boats laden with fruit, mail, and other boxes came into the canal. It was a “stand and go” type of place. They had a sign “no picnics here.” Then it hit me – doink. If there were tables and chairs outside tourists, not locals, would plop and probably not go in the one man operations to buy anything. It was great to get a real cappuccino – cost €3.50 – €2.60 more than we pay at home in Pontelandolfo. Now we also knew where the local spots were – sans outdoor seating.
Of course, I had to buy some glass trinkets and Jack and I decided to look inland for a local “hot shop”. Andrea Giubelli makes beautiful necklaces – yes I bought one – and other small items. Here is his website – Andrea Giubelli. His studio – I watched him work – is Calle Luna 12.
Murano Impressions – just a few quick brush strokes before the video –
Clear skies and quiet nights. Laughter floating out of shuttered windows as families gathered.
Yesterday’s garbage neatly tied and hung on hooks high out side doors. Men dragging carts collecting trash and smiling. Where do they take the garbage? Barges with dumpsters collect from the carts and head off. Where do they take the garbage?
Men and boys, fishing poles pointed to the heavens, legs dangling off piers staring at the sea.
Women dragging shopping bags on wheels from marchelleria, to fruitivendolo to the supermarket COOP.
Barge toting fruit and vegetables, barge toting building supplies, barge toting UPS boxes, barge toting cases of water, barge toting frozen Bindi desserts, barge toting everything COOP needs on its shelves, barge toting a crane, barge toting a cement mixer, barges — the necessities and amenities of life dependent on barges.
Check out my video –