15.05.2013 - 15.05.2013 71 °F
It's Wednesday, May 15th, and time for our rescheduled tour of the L'Orologio (literally, "The Clock"). The Torre L'Orologio dates from the end of the 15th century, and can only be visited on a guided tour.
We meet with the rest of our small group (about 12 people) at the Correr Museum at St. Mark's Square, and we're escorted to the tower by our guide, who opens a nondescript door under the archway to allow us access to the stairs leading up into the tower.
Along the way, we pass the old clock-keeper's quarters. He's only recently retired in 1998, when electric motors were added to the mechanism to replace the manual charging of the clock with chains and weights.
The clock features some interesting innovations...in the mid 1800's, panels were installed that strongly resemble modern digital clocks, ticking off the hours and minutes in 5-minute intervals. Twice a year, on the Feast of the Epiphany and on Ascension Day, the dials for the digital clock are removed, and figures of the Angel Gabriel and the three Magi are installed instead, performing a procession in front of the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus above the clock face every hour and performing an animatronic action (Gabriel blows his horn, the Kings bow before Christ). We missed seeing this by a few days (Ascension day in 2013 fell on May 9th), but the figures are in storage in the clock tower, and our guide shows us how they work.
We ultimately find our way to the roof of the tower, where we get an up close view of the bronze "Moors" with their striking hammers. One is old, the other young, to denote the passage of time, and both swivel from the hip to strike the enormous bell. We get some beautiful views of the Piazza before it's time to descend. An excellent tour.
With the rest of the day to play with, we strike out on foot across the Rialto, heading for the Fondamenta Nuove vaporetto stop, our jumping-off point for the islands of the lagoon. We wind our way through the alleys and bridges, frequently getting lost.
Once we board the vaporetto, our first stop is the island of Cemetario, which is exactly what it sounds like...the cemetery island for the lagoon. It is quite beautiful and well tended, but it is also expansive. Several tour loops are laid out for visitors, and we begin to wander through sections dedicated to nuns, monks, and soldiers. Everything we see is rather modern and uniform. I'm sure there are older, more atmospheric sections of the cemetery, but photos are not permitted and we have a lot we want to see today, so we cut our visit short.
Next stop is the glass-making island of Murano. We forgo the museum, and wander the streets instead, visiting various glass shops.
Some have great prices, but don't specify that what they're selling is Murano glass. Others have signs that proudly proclaim that no Chinese glass is sold there.
We pick up a few genuine Murano glass souvenirs, small things that will be easy to transport home without risk of breakage. We stop for a wonderful porchetta panini in a small shop that makes sandwiches to order, and browse some more.
We stumble across Fiore Fiore, and stop in to find the owner at work making a small glass butterfly. Here's proof that this is genuine Murano glass! We purchase it as soon as it is cool enough to touch, and chat with the owner about (what else?) the Italian economy.
We walk to the Faro lighthouse to catch a vaporetto for our next destination, the island of Burano, renown for lace making and for the brightly colored homes. It is a small, scenic place. Many homes have curtains in front of their doors, trying to get a modicum of privacy from the unending procession of tourists peering in their windows.
We intend to wind up our lagoon trip with a visit to the abandoned island of Torcello, but our best intentions are betrayed by our tired feet and the lengthening shadows. We board a vaporetto back to Venice proper. Naturally, in true Zukini fashion, we decide to take a short cut, and get off at the San Pietro stop, figuring it will be a quick walk to our apartment. How hard can it be? We have the San Pietro Campanile to use as a landmark. We find that, in Venice, unless you know the SPECIFIC route to take, NOTHING is a quick walk. We get lost again, wandering through the twisty lanes of San Pietro until we finally reach familiar territory.
This evening we decide to try Trattoria Sottaprova on Via Garibaldi. TripAdvisor reviews are sharply divided on this restaurant, but a guest journal that was left in our apartment gives it good reviews. We're not disappointed, and we thoroughly enjoy our meal there, the highlight being a pasta dish with fresh shrimp that is quite delicious. We share a bottle of wine, and weave our mellow way back to the apartment, passing down Viale Garibaldi. At the foot of the Viale is a glass building, a combination of a greenhouse and a bistro, called Cafe La Serra...tonight, they're having some sort of a dance event there, and everyone is dancing the Tango. It's a found moment of perfect enchantment.
Tonight, we pack up and prepare for our onward journey. In the morning, we'll be taking the Frecciargento high speed train south to Naples and onward to Sorrento, but for tonight, we bid Venice a fond farewell. Our visit here has been all too short.