LACE! and zomg so much to tell you!March 23, 2012
So Burano, a small island about 45 minutes away from Venice by boat, is known for its lace-making. I've been before, and hadn't been impressed by anything but the beauty of the tiny town (they paint their houses vibrant shades so they can be seen by their sailors from far away). Most of the lace for sale in the small shops isn't made by hand, and that which is is obviously extremely -- and prohibitively -- expensive.
This morning, I hopped the boat for Burano. I hadn't been in at least ten years, and figured it was worth another go. However, the obnoxiously loud tourists clacking away on the boat bugged me (said the obnoxiously quiet tourist), and at the last minute, when we landed at Burano, I decided to get on yet another boat and cross the canal to Torcello.
Torcello is another small island in the lagoon. Ruskin called it and Venice "the mother and daughter," Torcello being the mother. (And you KNOW how I feel about mamas.) It was inhabited first, before Venice, around the 5th century (!) and in the 10th century had about 10,000 inhabitants.
It now has 20 inhabitants. Twenty.
And it felt like it. I went on a walk when the boat landed.
I found a lane:
And another one:
I found a church (one of the oldest I've ever been in) and I found lunch (one of four places that looked like they cater to the rich summer crowd, none of whom were in town for the winter):
After a couple of delightful hours, I knew I should at least give Burano a chance, so I left Torcello, passing this on my walk out:
Yep. The lonely accordion-player was all by himself out there, with nothing in his hat (until I walked past, of course). Jesus. Just playing this back for myself makes me grin like I'm still there.
Then I caught the boat back to Burano. I looked dutifully at the lace, and no, nothing had changed. Mostly crap. (In fact, I didn't see any real stuff at all this time.) I was heading back to the boat, gelato in hand, when I spotted THE LACE MUSEUM (it wasn't in caps like that, but in my head it was.)
The little movie at the beginning was amazing, 30 minutes or so showing the history of the lace in the islands and where it was now.
But upstairs? The real jewels? THE LACE MAKERS THEMSELVES. Or three of them, at least.
Please excuse my photo clicks and my bad Italian -- I was seriously so excited that even now, thinking about it, puts a hitch in my breathing.
I didn't get my friend's name, which makes me mad at myself because we talked for a long time, but I know that she's been doing this for ten years (she got rather a late start, apparently) and her mother, who was with the sculoa when it began in the early 1900s, made lace for 83 years.
I showed her my lace. And OH MY GOD we had such a moment. She showed it proudly to the other two lace makers:
and they all said, "Brava, brava!" and she told me this: That we were the same. She and I. She made lace with her craft, and I made lace with mine -- then she clasped my hand -- but we are the same, she said in Italian, which I would repeat here but I'd get the conjugation wrong so I won't.
I wanted to hug my friend! To kiss her! But instead she asked to see my tattoos which were peeking out from under my sleeves -- she liked the yarn ball but loved the mama tattoo.
I felt annointed.
(I love how in the picture above she's stretching it out, totally confident, even though she only crochets and doesn't knit much -- she commented to the other women about my tiny needles! And she knits with THREAD! When I pulled out the knitting later, there was a short white thread from her work caught in with the red. For a moment I wanted to save it, like I saved my first gray hair at 21, but then I realized I was crossing into crazy-land.)
Then the creepy guard who had already asked me out once in the four seconds we'd spoken about lace followed me down the stairs, whispering so his boss wouldn't hear that he could show me Venice at night. He didn't think I knew he wanted to show me Venice in his pants? I know what Venice at night looks like, fool, and she's much prettier, so basta. However that doesn't stop me from loving I got hit on in the lace museum. BAM!
I'm loading a ton more pictures to Flickr, but I think I'm going to bed now, so I won't title them or even guarantee that they make it there. I'm exhausted, and I have my first well-deserved blisters of the trip.
* I haven't even told you about going to the Lido and finding where the cats of Venice went yet! (That was yesterday and such a good story.)
** Anyone ever used one of those Berlitz/etc language courses? Do any of them work? My problem is this: I have exactly enough Italian to order food, to find the bathroom, and to understand 80% of all responses. I can't conjugate a damn thing correctly -- in order to say I did something yesterday, I turn around and point behind me. In Italy, I'm not embarrassed (much) to make a fool of myself trying very hard to speak the language. (I fooled someone today, who corrected himself when he started to give English directions, and gave them all to me in Italian. I understood them all, and followed them, and then avoided him assiduously afterward, lest he learn the truth.) My problem in that in the US, when I'm learning, I hate being wrong all the time. I've done college courses in Italian, and usually drop out because speaking it in class makes me too nervous. Any ideas?