The Island of Burano in the Venice Lagoon

Italy by Bus

Day 8

Thursday, June 7, 2001 - Glass Factory, free time, Burano - lace, free time, Gondola Serenade


Venice Sightseeing Today we will absorb the city's unique atmosphere on our canal cruise by private launch to St. Mark's Square. We view the Bridge of Sighs before a visit to a traditional glass-blowing factory. Then time on your own to perhaps discover Burano and enjoy a seafood lunch. This evening after dinner at our hotel, a gondola serenade would be hard to resist. (BB D)

Optional Excursions

Lagoon Cruise + Burano + Lunch A half day off the beaten track! We are taken by private boat to the nearby islands in the lagoon of Venice. See the island of Murano and the Hermitage of San Francesco del Deserto. Lunch is taken at the island of the 'fisherman' — Burano — a photographer's paradise. Drinks are also included.

Gondola Serenade An ideal introduction to this unique and magical city. Enjoy a romantic gondola journey along canals full of character and colour, while musicians and singers entertain. See the Grand Canal with its magnificent and elegant palaces, witnesses of the past splendours of the 'Serenissima'.

Venice Siteseeing

The wakeup call for today came at 06:30AM, with breakfast at 07:00AM, and we were on the bus at 07:35AM for the ride across the causeway to Venice. From there, we took a launch back to Piazza San Marco, and got off the boat at the same place we got on the night before. Marco (Silvio) told the people taking the optional excursion to Burano to meet at 11:10 in front of the Hotel Metropole, which was near where we just got off the boat. Also, those who are not going on the optional excursion have until 6:15PM, and we will all meet at the same place for the trip back to the hotel.

Glass Factory

We then started walking toward Piazza San Marco, crossing three bridges along the way. We turned right into Piazzetta San Marco, and walked past the front of the Basilica San Marco. Here Silvio pointed out the far corner of the piazza where those taking the optional Gondola Serenade would meet at 4:55PM.

Then we turned right just past the basilica, and walked back toward the last canal that we had crossed.

We walked across a bridge to the Vecchia Murano Glass Blowing showroom, and I took this photo, below, from the bridge. In the distance you can see the Bridge of Sighs up above the other bridges.

A view from a bridge over a canal in Venice, with the Bridge of Sighs in the distance A view from a bridge over a canal in Venice, with the Bridge of Sighs in the distance

Then we continued on to the glass blowing showroom and demonstration.

A glass horse in the waiting area of the Murano Glass showroom in Venice, Italy This magnificent glass horse is in the entryway, where we waited for just a moment before going upstairs.

Glass blowing demonstration at the Murano Glass showroom in Venice, Italy

This photo shows the beginning of the process, with just a ball of molten glass on the end.

Glass blowing demonstration at the Murano Glass showroom in Venice, Italy
In Randy's photo, you can see the nearly finished product.

After the demonstration, we were given a sales presentation showing us some items that they were offering to us for a special price. Then we could browse the showrooms, of which there were many.

We bought a set of vases that they had as a special, and Karen found a small pitcher shaped piece that she liked. We paid for them with a credit card, and had them send the items home. A couple of weeks after we got home, we received a package with the items inside, packed as you see them in the photo below. (They are wrapped in the shrink-wrap upside down, so what you see here are the bottoms of the vases.) We gave five of the vases away as Christmas presents, and kept one vase and the pitcher.

The Murano Glass we bought in Venice, Italy The Murano Glass vases and pitcher we bought in Venice

Free time

We walked back across the bridge, which was the only way out, and came back to the side of the Basilica San Marco, where we passed this entrance. Silvio had pointed it out when we were on our way to the glass factory. It is an entrance that is always open for people who want to go in to pray.

A side entrance to the Basilica San Marco in Venice, Italy A side entrance to the Basilica San Marco

We went in, and it leads to a small chapel area off to the side of the basilica. From it you could see a good deal of the interior of the basilica. At the time, the lines were not too long, and someone told me that they moved fast, so if you wanted to go in to see the basilica, you could do so easily enough. But if you just want a quick look, this is another option. There is no tour of Basilica San Marco included in the tour.

A street in Venice, Italy A street in Venice

So now we were free until 11:10AM. We started going through the streets, working our way in the general direction of the Rialto Bridge.

Karen was looking for some silk material to buy, and, in addition to the other shops we stopped at, she kept asking for information about fabric shops. We checked out a couple, and did some souvenir shopping, but never made it to the Rialto Bridge. She didn't get any silk here either, but eventually found some she liked in Florence.

A daytime photo of the Basilica San Marco in Venice, Italy, from Randy

Since I didn't get any pictures of the Basilica San Marco, I am including Randy's photo here.

As were wandering around, we passed an Internet Point shop. Actually it was a souvenir shop with a room in the back where there were a number of PCs that you could rent by the hour. This was located at San Marco 676, Spadaria, Venezia 30124, 30 steps from St. Marco. At lunch in Anacapri, Randy had come over to me because he had noticed that we had the same kind of camera. The cameras use a card called a SmartMedia card to store the digital photos. He was running short of space on the cards he had with him, and wanted to know if I had seen any places selling the cards. At the time, I had not, but I told him that I would keep an eye open for them. I thought that maybe we could do something about his problem at the Internet Point when we got back from Burano.

As we walked back to the meeting place in front of the Hotel Metropole, we crossed one of the bridges, where I stopped and took this photo, below, of another leaning tower. Silvio had pointed this out before, but this time I had a good chance to get the photo.

A leaning tower in Venice, Italy A leaning tower in Venice

While waiting to get on the launch for the Burano trip, I mentioned my idea to Randy, and we decided to check out the Internet Point once we got back.


We took a launch from Piazza San Marco through the Venice lagoon. First we went by another island, which I do not remember the name of, and went past a house that Silvio said was Casanova's villa. According to legend, he was the only prisoner to ever escape the prison that was located behind the Doge's palace. He took the walk across the Bridge of Sighs to his cell. But somehow, he was rescued from the prison by some women. That is as much as I know about the story.

Casanova's villa on an island in the Venice lagoon in Venice, Italy Casanova's villa on an island in the Venice lagoon

As we neared Burano, we could see the tower rising above the rooflines. This is another tower that leans a great deal. I intended to get a better picture of it, but never got around to it.

Approaching the dock on the island of Burano in the Venice lagoon in Venice, Italy Approaching the dock on the island of Burano
Colorful houses on the island of Burano in the Venice lagoon in Venice, Italy Colorful houses on the island of Burano

Centuries ago, the fishermen of Burano painted their houses different colors. This was so that when returning from the sea, they could make out their houses from a distance. Now the houses must be repainted each year, and always with the same colors.

After we got off the boat, we walked over to a canal, crossed a bridge, and walked down to Trattoria al Gatto Nero (the Black Cat) where we had lunch. In the photo below, you can see it in the distance on the left side of the canal, where the awnings are.

A canal on the island of Burano in the Venice lagoon in Venice, Italy A canal on the island of Burano with Trattoria al Gatto Nero in the distance on the left

Lunch began with wine, in which we put a slice of lemon. Then we had some risotto (rice) with shrimp, or spaghetti with clam sauce, then salad. Next were four different fish: fried fish, calamari, fried shrimp and sole. Silvio cut up the sole for one person at each table to show everyone how to de-bone it. For desert there was fruit, cookies and almond brittle, with coffee, followed by some Sambuca.

Randy's photo of the interior of the Trattoria al Gatto Nero on the island of Burano in the Venice lagoon in Venice, Italy Randy's photo of the interior of the Trattoria al Gatto Nero, after we were finished with lunch

Everyone seemed to have a great time here.

After lunch we had time, about 45 minutes, to go over to the main piazza in Burano and check out the shops there.

The main piazza on the island of Burano in the Venice lagoon in Venice, Italy The main piazza on the island of Burano

The main piazza on the island of Burano in the Venice lagoon in Venice, Italy Karen hurrying from one shop to another. She bought some vey nice lace at some of the shops.

At 3:30PM, we were back on the launch for the ride back to Piazza San Marco. The route they took was the route you would take if you were coming into Venice from the sea.

The Venice lagoon in Venice, Italy The Venice lagoon

Free Time in Venice -- Internet Point

Once back to Venice, we were free until 4:55PM, when we had to meet for the gondola ride. Randy and I went to the Internet Point, and each of us rented a PC. (Lynda and Karen were shopping, as if I had to mention that.) I had the software and USB cable for the camera with me, so I connected the camera to the PC, installed the software and tried to transfer pictures from it to the PC. The idea was that we would buy recordable CDs from them, copy the pictures to the CDs and then we would be able to delete them from the SmartMedia cards and reuse them. There ended up being two problems, one of which was caused by the fact that their computer expert was not there at the time. First, when we tried to access the pictures in the cameras, the PC would not allow us to transfer the pictures to the PC's hard drive. The second problem was that, even though the CD drive was supposed to allow recording to the CD, it would not work. So Randy and I both managed to get a couple of emails sent, but the rest of the time was a bust. Good thing it only cost us 13000 lira each (less than $6.50).

Gondola Serenade

We met back up with our spouses and the rest of the group in time for the optional Gondola Serenade. From the corner of the piazza, we walked through a short alley and were at a gathering point for the gondolas. Silvio began loading people into the gondolas.

Boarding the gondolas in Venice, Italy Boarding the gondolas. That's Jasmine being helped into the gondola by a worker

In the gondola just in front of ours, Silvio put Lloyd and Lorrie along with another couple, Jason and Eliana. In the gondolas before that one, he had put six people. In theirs, he took just four, and then two people who were not part of our group. These turned out to be the entertainment, an accordion player and a singer. Then in our gondola were Doris and Ken, Jasmine and Lee and Karen and me.

Riding the gondolas in Venice, Italy Karen, Jasmine, Ken, Doris and Lee

As we made our way through the canals toward the Grand Canal, we each took turns having people take photos of us.

Karen and me on the gondola in Venice, Italy Karen and me on the gondola

Randy's photo as the gondolas made their way through the narrow canals to the Grande Canal in Venice, Italy "canals full of character and colour"

Randy's photo on the right shows the canals full of character and colour as described in the optional Gondola Serenade description. The flotilla of gondolas from our group made its way out to the Grand Canal, just past the Rialto Bridge, crossed the canal and floated down it for a ways.

Lloyd & Lorrie Engaged!
As we floated down the Grand Canal, there came a loud whoop from a gondola ahead of us. At least that is what it sounded like to me. Then the word was passed that Lloyd had just proposed to Lorrie, and she accepted! According to Randy, the loud whoop was Lloyd shouting "SHE SAID YES!". This put a brighter spin on the whole gondola ride, and everyone congratulated the happy couple.

Lloyd and Laurie after the proposal on a gondola in Venice, Italy Lloyd and Laurie after the proposal

Randy's photo as the gondolas made their way through the narrow canals to the Grande Canal in Venice, Italy Randy's photo of Lloyd and Laurie after the proposal

I think Randy took the photo on the right at just about the time the gondolier in his gondola yelled at him for leaning over too far and nearly upsetting the boat.

The gondolas then crossed the Grand Canal, went back up a little, and turned into a smaller canal. This led us back to where we started.

Free Time

After the ride, we had about a half hour of free time. Karen and I went back to the Internet Point to retrieve the hat that I had left there, stopped at a shop that Karen wanted to go back to, and then made our way to the Hotel Metropole to meet for the trip back to our hotel.

Included Dinner

Dinner that night was at 8:00PM. This consisted of spaghetti, followed by a meatball that looked like a hamburger. We had ricotta cake and coffee for desert.


Marilyn and Beth

Commentary from Marilyn and her daughter Beth about their Best of Italy tour, September 7-20, 2001, reproduced here with their permission.

Day 8, Friday, 14 September, 2001 - Venice

We were up and headed for the city of Venice right after breakfast. This hotel had the worst service for breakfast ever it was a mad house, oh well we survived.
We all took a boat together and landed at Saint Marks square around 9am. You then had all day free, or if you were going to Burano you had free time until 1:00.
For those of us that wanted to buy Murano glass we followed our tour director to the factory. It was a short 5 min walk from the square. Murano glass is very, very expensive but if you wanted signed pieces this is the place to go.
We wandered around and then timed our entrance to St. Marks for the Europeans moment of silence for the WTC attacks, it gave you gooseskin (as Letizia our TD would say).
Since we were there in September the square was starting to have areas of standing water. I guess in October the rains really start and there are boards on stilts set up for people to walk on. This day was our only really overcast day for our whole trip (we really lucked out on the weather) but it was only a few sprinkles and we had umbrellas (for those of you going in the rainy season starting now make sure you are prepared for rain so you won't be disappointed).
At 1 we met up with the others going on the infamous Burano optional $55 pp. We took a private boat to the island. Lunch was great and they did have food for the non seafood eaters. The island was very quaint and there was plenty of time to browse the shops.
We were back to Venice to pick up the people for the boat ride back to the causeway to get the bus around 5:30. We got back to the hotel around 6:30 and had another included dinner there.

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Contents © Copyright 2001 Author: Lee Briggs except where noted. All rights reserved.