Murano Glass and My Verona
On our second day in Venice we bought a 24-hour ACTV vapretto pass with a positive eye towards a bit more exploration. After a little bickering, we figured out the best plan of attack to ride their "metro". Jump on, jump off, alley, alley, bridge, calles, bridge, dock and off to Murano. (Light bickering, instead of bottling-up, is our key to 19 years of marriage!)
The city of Venice is made up of 118 islands linked by bridges, the further outlying islands are also linked like Venice. Murano is made up of 4 such islands. We get off the vapretto and immediately are pounced-on by barkers willing to sell us tickets to a factory tour. Of course, if you do your research, factory tours are free (with the obligatory tour through their showroom). So we ignore them and start walking. Apparently away from the shops but we did find the suburban area of Murano. It was actually quite pleasant to see real life activities, gardens, parks, grass, geckos, etc. Soon enough we wander our way to the factories and shops and find a few choice pieces, always making sure it was Made in Murano, if possible even meeting the artist.
Instead of getting herded through a glass factory, I highly suggest going to the museum instead. Here they have glass pieces from earliest times to modern exhibitions, as well a video detailing all the different ways glass is made into objects, from beads to mirrors to chandeliers. Most 'factories' only show one form. Upon our return, we take a vapretto down the Grand Canal and see all the expensive fronted homes, built during the 1500s heyday of Casanova and courtesans and built to impress all the other gondolas bobbing-along the canal. Today almost all of the first floors have been abandoned to the fishes. Venice is sinking 1mm every year as well as the problematic rising sea level.
After an early rise, we pack out and head to Verona, arriving around 10am, we dump our car and luggage at the Grand Verona and go for a walk. Of all the cities we have visited, I must say Verona was by far the most pleasant. The roads are wider, the streets are cleaner and the views are existent. I have found myself rather suffocated in all these European cities. Ouradites like to point out what a short day we have due to our deep mountain valley, but the narrow streets and tall buildings in these cities allow for far less sunshine, year-round. Verona is the home of the author Arthur Brooke's of original Romeus and Juliet fame, it is a mini Rome but with a bit more German influence; apparently the Germans liked to try to invade this region. But the arena (colliseum) is the 4th largest in Italy and is still actively used for performances. We adored this town, we checked-out the somewhat grungy Juliette's balcony and the Castelvecchio turned art gallery. For dinner we had sushi because, well, we'd had enough of Italian food, and it was excellent.
The next day we borrowed bikes from the hotel and toured around the city once more. Lovely. With time to kill before our flight in Bergamo, we treked-off the A-way and visited the lakeside peninsula of Sirmione. This is akin to what I imagine Lake Como offers but slightly more accessible to campers and caravans and a few Ferrari's. We may not have seen Paris but we did take in a lot. It was a nice way to end our visit to Italy. Arrivederci Italia!