|Murano in the map by Jacopo de'Barbari. Venice, Correr Museum.
When I was 22, I hit a very rough patch in my life. In a fit of "why ever not", I threw all caution to the wind, sold almost all of my worldly possessions, and did what I'd only read of in books -- I ran away from home. Where did I end up? Venice, Italy.
While there, I marveled at the amazing Murano glass and listened to the shopkeepers explain the history of this storied island. At the time, I hadn't caught the beading bug, but I certainly knew pretty when I saw it. Having a love of history, though, I set out to learn more.
|in the Murano Glass Museum
Murano glass is named for the small island of Murano about 2 miles from Venice. I remember vividly sitting on the steps of a huge historic building, eating fresh bread for lunch and looking out over the water towards the island. Many people know that the Murano glassmakers moved to the island to guard the secret of glassmaking, but they also moved there because they were an enormous fire hazard to Venice in the 13th century. Oops.
|some of my own lampwork beads
|photo via EuropeForVisitors.com
Since my sojourn in Italy, I've taken a glass blowing class, and it's amazing watching that gather of glass turn into something cool (in my case, a paperweight and a shot glass that had walls so thick it would break your toe if you dropped it on your foot). I've longingly run my hands through bowls of Venetian beads and wished I'd bought some while I lived amongst them. As I sit at my lampwork torch, I find myself thinking about the Piazza San Marco and Murano and glass.
And occasionally, pigeons. There were millions of pigeons in that Piazza. Yikes.
But I digress.
|Basilica San Marco -- amazing inside and out
You probably don't want to sell everything that doesn't fit in two suitcases to venture to Venice, but as an art bead lover, it should be on your top five list of Places to Go. My life changed so much during that trip, and learning about the beauty of glass was one of the highlights of those months.
So call the travel agent. Mark your calendar. Make a concrete plan, a "yes, in 2012 I WILL go there" plan -- I promise you won't regret it.
|the paperweight and shot glass I made in my first glass blowing class