Travelogue from a holiday in Venice. Sunday 13th June 2004
Trip to Burano and Torcello
The alarm clock rings as ordered at 7. We have planned a trip to the islands Torcello and maybe Burano. We are a bit worried about the weather; it has rained all night with thunder from time to time. But the rain has ceased now and the fresh grey can easily be better than high sun when on a trip.
For the first time we put on our jackets and take #1 to Piazzale Roma where we change to #41 that takes us to Fondaco Nuove. The boat to Burano/Torcello is waiting.
The captain is on the quay smoking and waiting for the last passengers. To be sure I ask if this is the boat to Torcello: "Va a Torcello?" and he answers "Si". Fine.
But it doesn't go to Torcello! From Burano it goes to Treponti and when I ask about Torcello I'm told we should have changed on Burano. Of course, any fool knows that!
We have no desire to explore Treponti, but return to Burano where we walk around for 1˝ hour. Houses are small, well kept and painted with strong colours. The island's speciality is (or was) lace and you can buy Burano lace in many of the small shops. Prices are staggering!
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There are many locals in the streets. They have probably just left church, because bells are ringing. We visit the lace museum, which was once a lace school. Here too the Venicecard comes in handy. The lace is breathtaking; such intricate patterns must require hours and hours of work.
With usual flair we find a bar visited by locals. While they chat and have fun at the counter we get a nice sandwich, espresso and water. On a peaceful bench by the harbour we wait for the ferry to Torcello. It is a pretty small boat and the ride is short.
From the quay on Torcello it is about 10 minutes walk to the basilica and the few houses left on the island. According to the guidebook less than 80 souls live here, but back in the 7th - 13th century there were 20.000 inhabitants and a bishop. Malaria and rivalry with Venice gradually reduced everything to rubble.
The path is paved with red asphalt and fenced on both sides so nobody will get lost in the wilderness in search of ruins. There were once some 100 churches on Torcello.
We pass a garden with a surprising streetlamp on the lawn. Along the road is a couple of trattorias and a fancy Cipriani ristorante where you can eat for 80-100 € if you choose an ordinary wine. We reach the old basilica from 783 and look around.
I take a picture of Attila's throne. Attila The Hun did indeed roam the mainland back in the 5th century, but I doubt he has ever used this uncomfortable stone chair. There are many carob trees and dry fruit on the ground. They are probably not harvested anymore.
We enter the museum and I give my Venicecard to the young man at the ticket table. He has obviously never seen a Venicecard before and scrutinizes the scripples from other museums and then asks: "E a tutti musei?" ("Is this for all museums?").
Frankly I have no idea if the card is valid here too, but reply shamelessly with a "Si" and he lets us in convinced by my boldness. When we get home I look into the matter, and the museum on Torcello is actually not on the list.
Sorry! Except for some old books there isn't much of interest to us, and since the archaeological department seems to be closed we stroll back along the path and settle outside Osteria al Ponte del Diavolo.
A kind old waiter takes care of us. He is way and beyond retirement age and spills homely on the tablecloth. It is peaceful and green, and the birds sing merrily.
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The ferry is supposed to leave at 2.45 p.m., but it waits a few minutes for a small round priest in black. He immediately finds a corner and opens a very holy book from his briefcase. Four boys are having fun at full volume until an angry father swings his loose left hand. That brings quiet.
The ferry from Burano is pretty full and we do not get seats until we leave Murano. Well, in fact there are two vacant seats beside an old bum who continuously sips his magnum wine bottle and speaks to the air.
We change at Fondaco Nuove, but the vaporetto doesn't go to Piazzale Roma as expected, but the long way east of the island where it stops at San Marco after half an hour. We change to #1 and are home at five. It has been a long, but nice trip.
All day Helle has suffered from the mosquito bites she got the other day. They swell and form blisters.
We Are Spoilt at Il Giardinetto
It is good to rest a while and we leave between 6 and 7. It is still cloudy, but there are some bright moments. We get an aperitivo at the café near Campo San Tomŕ.
The phony American boheme-type isn't here today or maybe he is inside, because it is a bit cold. Before we leave we are actually the only ones left outside.
We go to Il Giardinetto - after the dinner-disaster yesterday we need to feel secure. By the way I have also seen that we can get a 15 % discount with our Venicecard - we weren't aware of that on our first two visits.
It is to cold to sit outside, so we go indoors. The senior waiter recognizes us with a broad smile, makes a sweeping motion with his arm and tells us to sit wherever we like.
The waiter inside is a very polite, attentive and charming young man. When we order fish risotto as first course he warns us and says that it will take up to 30 minutes to prepare.
Excellent! - Then you know it is fresh and we can have an aperitivo while we wait! He immediately suggests something with "secco" at the end (prosecco?) and trusting him blindly we accept. It is a light and delightful white wine with a delicate sparkle and a touch of sweetness.
The risotto arrives after 20-25 minutes and it is really good. When I ordered I asked for a red wine from the region (Veneto), and the waiter suggested a Cabernet Franca, which is delightful: powerful taste and a wonderful bouquet.
Helle gets veal in Marsala sauce and I get (again) Fegato alla Venezia: liver with polenta. The polenta is yellow, about one centimetre thick and takes up half the plate.
Three middle-aged women are placed at the next table. One wants salad, another pizza. They order with strict and detailed instructions as to how to do this and how to cook that, and on one of the pizzas oregano is strictly taboo.
Italian and French housewives are probably among the most merciless restaurant guests in the World - only daughters in law have a worse time than the restaurant staff.
We finish off with an espresso - there is absolutely no room for dolce - and while we enjoy the rest of the wine we see some of the opening soccer match from the European championship in Portugal.
I pay with VISA and when the waiter returns he eagerly asks if we're are from Denmark (is says "Danske Bank" on the card). He has studied economics in Copenhagen for 5 months. "Well, then you speak Danish?", I ask, but he remembers nothing but "dak" and "skol" ("dank-u" and "sjeers").
We are very full and can just manage a pint at Vivaldi's before we stalk home. Helle didn't see the rest of the soccer match.