All of this gushing about how wonderful the first two episodes of Brideshead Revisited are has been making me think about Venice a lot.
(picture from Carol Gerten’s Fine Art)
Venice was the capital of La Serenissima, or The Most Serene Republic of Venice. Isn’t that wonderful? It has some of the loveliest architecture in the world, all the glories of Italian food and aesthetics, it has Burano lace and Murano glass, it was serene, and of course… the canals. The Venetian canals are something that must be seen to be believed. One can know, intellectually, that the city was built on the water, but the gut punch of knowing it is a completely different experience.
Murano glass is a difficult thing to resist. So colorful, so fanciful, so sparkly. Since I was in Venice in 2003, I have had a vague intention of someday buying one or two Venetian chandeliers for my own. The charms of millefiore glass need not be expounded upon, I’m sure… and the shelves and shelves of darling little glass animals in every shop. So tempting, so pretty, such pointless little toys. And of course, it’s all so very expensive. Well, at least I can play with my Venetian solitaire set, pictured above. It was ordered from the internet, incidentally, not bought in Venice.
These beads, on the other hand, I did bring home from Venice. They are the one souvenir you can buy that is wholly affordable; in fact, you cannot buy the loose beads for less than the cost of these necklaces, never mind the spacer beads and findings. I know, I’ve tried a good alternative, many a late night when my lovely amber sommerso beads just weren’t enough to be going on with. One has to go to Venice to get these darlings, I’m afraid.
I was there with my mother and my aunt, who were both as charmed by La Serenissima as I was. Our hotel was off a street that was barely shoulder-width wide. Our hotel room was papered with silk jacquard. We looked in every shop, even though they all sell the same things. My mother bought watercolor prints. My aunt let herself be haggled with by a street vendor selling designer knockoff purses. We ate hot paninis and drank cold lemon soda for lunch; we sat in a blessedly cool back garden for dinner. We walked from one end of the island to another, and had gelato on the Rialto. We fell in love with San Marco. We fell in love with the Doge’s palace. We took a gondola ride that took us everywhere a gondola ride is supposed to take you, under the Bridge of Sighs and down quiet back canals. We took a hotel speed boat to Murano. We took a very slow ferry to Burano. We took the vaporetto up and down the main canal.
Venice is everything it’s supposed to be. I promise.