A Tale of Two Foundries

Trip Start Aug 29, 2010
Trip End Oct 04, 2010

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Flag of Italy  , Veneto,
Thursday, September 16, 2010

Today was a bit of a later start than usual for us, I think we left our hotel later than 11, and the day overall was very relaxing. We started off in search of wifi, since we were at this point multiple days without Internet. Dreadful, I know. We were told about a cafe that had free Internet, so we went there, but it wasn't open for a while yet. To pass the time, we went to see the Jewish Ghetto.
The Jewish Ghetto in Venice is the place that actually gives us the word ghetto, from I believe the 12th century. The Jews were all forced to move into this one section of the city, the site of the foundry, which in Italian is geto. But in the Ashkenazi pronunciation it became ghetto. There was a really good memorial for the Shoah there, as well as a Hebrew Museum that had a history of the Jews in Venice, as well as many very old religious pieces. These included 16th century prayer books, as well as various silver pieces like Torah covers, Seder plates, etrog holders for Sukkot, and so forth. Really cool to see all of it. Also had some old Ketubbot, which were interesting to read since they were very much marriage contracts in the contract sense... there was one translated one which pretty much devoted itself entirely to describing the dowry - obviously one marriage ritual that should still exist today (just kidding, Tina's parents).
Afterwards, the cafe was open and we finally got wifi, or at least Kelly did, our iPad sucked there. :( But at least we could check our email and feel connected with the world again.
Then we went to then island of Murano, renowned for its glassworks. We got to watch masters create and blow glass in front of us, all the while hearing what the process itself was. There were three of them, two masters and an apprentice, and even the apprentice had 11 years of experience. It's impressive how easily they've make these beautiful creations, and how completely unaffected they are by the 900 degree Celsius open ovens surrounding them, not to mention how they were bare handing all the metal poles. After we took several pictures of the glass blowing in action (we were told they were making a fish), we went around browsing the stores. Of which there are dozens, with no shortage of beautiful works and eager salesmen. I asked one the price of a carafe and glass set we liked, and he immediately tried to sell me one that cost seven times as much and wasn't even as pretty! He said the price under his breath so fast I barely even heard it, I had to stop his spiel and just say "wait, wait, did you say €1000!?!" I don't think we would bought the thing for 100, it was kinda gaudy. In any case, we did buy quite a few trinkets. Bracelets, necklaces, a ring, a beret. And we also saw a stunningly beautiful and intricate vase that we just had to buy, and we could get it shipped to Chicago which was perfect too. The store owner even demonstrated how non fragile it was by, to our horror, literally slamming it against the wooden desk in front of him. We were shocked! But not only was the vase fine (I should reiterate, the entirely-made-of-glass vase), but the desk actually was dented. So I think it'll survive the shipping. Great souvenir.
We grabbed some pizza and pasta and wine nearby for lunch, and were shocked to discover that it was already almost 5pm. Where did the time go?? So we decided to head back, drop our new jewelry off, and then wander around Venice aimlessly. Our hotel wifi finally worked, so we were able to catch our blog up with all these posts we've been writing! So that was exciting for us. Then we pretty much just wandered around the Cannaregio sestier, before just sitting at a random small cafe and getting another bottle of wine. The wine was decent, the place was weird tho. The one waiter kept randomly blaring really loud, bad 80s music. Most notably when two guys with an accordion and a guitar came to try to serenade all of us sitting in the area drinking, which was sad cause their music was far superior to the cafe's and I definitely would've given them a couple euros. But overall, a nice, mostly quiet end to a nice slow day.
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Aileen on

Oh my gosh! The making of these Murano glass pieces was one of my favorite things to witness when I was in Italy! My parents have a red carafe/glass set at home, which we got shipped to our house (the shape of the carafe cover ended up being a little misshapen, which we could have easily mailed back and gotten a replacement for free, and I think we got as far as taking pictures of it to send to the company, but no further) and is on display in our China cabinet at home. I'm hoping they'll use it for its purpose one day... and don't worry, it wasn't as expensive as 1,000 Euros!

(Love the glass pandas, by the way. Tina, they are perfect for you!)

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