Friday, February 15, 2013

Italian Lace

Bought on Burano

A view of Italian Island life.

In a land far away, Italy by name, and  in a time long ago, over one thousand years, there thrived a tiny little town on the tiny little island of Burano off the coast of Venice. It is said there that a fisherman out in his boat, away from shore, and who was engaged to be married, resisted the temptation posed by a singing mermaid that came up al
ongside his boat. So impressed was the Queen of the mermaids later upon hearing that report of a mere mortal withstanding the beauty of the singing mermaid for the sake of his love on shore, she fashioned a bridal veil out of the foam and bubbles of her swishing tail in the sea and presented it to the fisherman to give to his bride. Ever since then the island of Burano has been known for its lace production. My sister, Tracey, lives in Italy and upon visiting her this past fall with another one of my sisters, Karin, the three of us took a trip to Venice. We went aboard one of the small ferries that run between Venice and the small islands off shore which include Burano. It was late in the day and very quiet on the island. There were few tourists if any and it was locals who stepped off the boat with us, coming home from the city of Venice to their dinners. I was charmed by the small lanes, bright flowers in window boxes, and the pastel colors of the buildings which legend says was originally done so the fishermen could pick out their homes while out at sea. As luck would have it, most the shops in the tiny village square were closed. If I had realized sooner about the textile heritage of Borano I would have made getting out to it sooner in the day a focus. As it was, I rather learned while on the ferry! (this trip to Venice hadn't been well planned by us. It was more or less a whim, if you can believe it, a car trip we took just to get out for a while, something hard for me to imagine now, back home in the states as I am. But, when you live in Italy you can just get into your little car and drive to these iconic places for the day, which is more or less what my sisters and I were doing from Tracy's home in Naples). I could tell I had missed something glorious, but I felt lucky to be there at all, so I didn't spend much time lamenting and still don't. However, there was one little shop still open and inside it was full of lace. The woman in the shop could not speak my language and I could not speak hers, but I picked out an item from her, a little lace butterfly. I tried to verify that it was indeed made there by local woman and was unable to express my question clearly to her. No matter. I made my purchase and a memory. This little lace butterfly, regardless of whether it was actually made on Burano by the local lace cooperative women or not, which it may or may not be, it is a treasure I add to my textile collection along with the stories and memories of that day walking the little lanes beside pastel houses and gardens by the sea on a island in Italy where lace textiles are honored and have been for hundreds of years. For now it sits in a frame in my front room. Some day it will enter the inherited chest of treasured family textiles and needlework to be passed on to another generation, and the story of that day on the island with my sisters has been written down to go along with it.  

The water roads of Venice

My sisters and I in Naples, Italy in October. I am on the far left. Tracey, in the middle, lives in Naples. Karin, on the righ,t is the fashionable one. They made great cappuccino in Italy!

Venice on a beautiful October day.

1 comment:

  1. Now when you look at these photos I am sure you are thinking was I even really there really . . . reminds me of that book you lent me about the British ladies on vacation in Italy.