The downside to travel is that no matter how much money you blow on lodgings (and I’m telling you, this was the most money I’ve ever thrown at a hotel), money can’t buy you class as the ol’ Real Housewives tune goes. The room next door featured a small family from New Jersey who must have done lost their minds because they were arguing loudly with a three year old at 7am. Arguing so loudly that as the small child squealed, “NO! You’re mean, daddy- I don’t want to go with you anymore!”, the housekeeper came by to scold them in a language that can best be described as Angry Italian Grandma.
The argument waged on through my shower, my mom’s shower, and our dressing with several more scolds from housekeeping. “I don’t understand what you’re saying! GAWD!” Jersey shouted. She slammed the door. Housekeeping continued the protest outside.
I wander down to the ornate breakfast room. The ceiling is a sea of exposed, delicately painted beams. Faded ivy and rosettes wander down the wood, ending in a wall of delicate stained glass. An array of breakfast pastries, meats, and cheeses are set out. A harried woman offers coffee and fresh squeeze juices. “Do you guys have bagels?” Jersey asks. She flips a mane of dark hair over her Juicy track suit. My mother grimaces and takes a deep sip from her latte.
“So embarrassing,” she mutters. I tuck into an apricot and almond tart with a soft, buttery crust. My mother makes little ham and cheese roll-ups and we trace our map to the little bodega across the street for water ferry tickets.
We buy them from the tobacco shop near a small market on Fondamente Cannaregio. We fumble our cash on the counter, he grunts, handing us tickets and within seconds, we board our first ferry for Murano. The boat fills quickly and we jockey for the best spot outdoors, cameras and phones held up near our chests like an offering. A young man of about 19 or 20 mans the door. He wears aviators, tailored navy chinos, a white polo, and white boat shoes. The captain, a thirty something cross between Clooney, Hamm, and Gosling, turns and shouts to him. An older woman leans over and whispers, “Do all the boat guys here look like Calvin Klein underwear models? Jeesh!” And they do. And each one is as effortlessly cool and alluring as the next.
At the third stop, our underwear model repeats the name of port-of-call with the weariness that must signal the tail-end of high season. He hops off with his model good looks and begins play fighting with a slightly younger woman, she too in aviators and the get-up. She takes her place at the door as he stands with the stragglers we couldn’t pack in and we’re off, past the cemetery island and on to Murano.
At Murano, we decide to walk the parameter. The murky green water laps the edges of the fortified island. Small shops beckon in with signs for demonstrations and galleries. Most of these carry much of the same- watch faces, millefiore beads, large, floppy vases, elaborate chandeliers, and curiously, tiny chickens. We dart in and out of each one, wandering down residential alleys, eyeballing the blown glass lamps, brightly colored homes, and rambling climbing roses. Bougainvillea are still blooming along with little pink and yellow roses, hydrangeas, and bittersweet. They march up high against the fences, keeping out our eager prying eyes.
Down Fondamenta dei Vetrai we find a small gallery. Everything is made in-house. Everything has prices to match. I consider a set of exquisitely blown tumblers- pencil-thin lines of black and white glass swirl in a perfect circle up the thin sides. In comparison to clunky versions nearby, I know they warrant the $40 a piece but I set them back considering my already absurd and enormous glassware collection. I opt for something smaller: the same swirl in globe earrings. I pop them on and they are almost undetectable in their lightness. A ring of set rhinestones caps the bead. It seems every Italian woman has something rhinestone on.
Outside, I hear wolf whistles from a handful of gangly men. They pass- one with a flat cap and an enormous mustache, the other a bit stouter in his white undershirt, looking and sounding like Mario and Luigi. I straight-face and we hustle back: we have a boat to catch and a bistro to find. Burano is waiting.
See Part 1 of this journey here!