( or Drystone Walling and the Dolomites )
Mind The Gap
Day 2. 22 July 2004
Thursday. I wake to the sounds of delivery boats on a nearby canal. After a slight mixup over breakfast with my milk requirements – warm milk doesn’t go best with cornflakes – I am setting out for the ‘straight’ road to the Rialto. Along the way I discover a bookshop selling maps and a helpful member of staff. Although as it turns out the one map that they do have shoes Chies d’Alpago literally right on the right-hand edge of the map. Isn’t it always the same? And as for map #012? The only one that they don’t have.
All the stalls across and beyond the Rialto are teeming with people, and the fish and vegetable market the same; a place of colour, of life, of sights and smells. In faultering Italian I ask for half a kilo of cherries and depart to seek a route across town to catch the vaporetta to Murano.
Standing up on deck but beneath the canopy in order to get the best of the sea breeze I am struck by how even more appropriate the London underground instruction is to this form of transport. At each stop we are pulled in the landing stage by ropes and gates opened. Whilst on the move we stand holding the edge of the roof just like when on the tube.
From the very moment of arriving on Murano – the island of glass – there is a man shouting out directions to one of the glass furnaces. I follow; round to the left and over the bridge. It’s fascinating, mesmerising; if intensely hot, work. Skilled too; in five minutes watching one man turn a ball of molten glass into a horse reering up on it’s hind legs. Another man fashions a large multi-coloured bowl in almost the same time, adding pleating with several, carefully timed flicks of the wrist…