• Travel

    Torcello

    “Don’t look now,’ said John to his wife, ‘but there are two old girls two tables away, looking at me all the time. I don’t like it. There’s something very strange about their eyes.’ The wife, Laura, turned and saw what she saw and laughed as she commented that they were two men actually. He said: ‘…You mustn’t laugh. Perhaps they’re dangerous. Murderers or something going around Europe, changing their clothes in each place. You know, sisters here in Torcello this morning; brothers tomorrow, or tonight, back in Venice.’ We walked past a trattoria where Daphne du Maurier’s John and Laura might have sat as they demurred about the identity of the two…

  • Travel

    Glass for Princes in Murano

    A mile north off Venice is the cluster of islands called Murano. We crossed in a vaporetto (water taxi) from Venice to Murano on a day that was joyously sunny. The kinds that come wrapped up in a bow only once during a few miserably cold and foggy winter days spent in Venice. When we got off the boat at Murano, the first sight that greeted me was that of a bearded local dragging a sizeable carton on wheels . He looked like a fisherman, the lines of the years marked out on his weather-beaten face. A rustic, atmospheric introduction but what lay after was anything but unassuming. Workshops, boutiques and factories cropped up…

  • europe

    Candy is Dandy in Burano

    I have fallen for bright accents of colour on doors and windows of whitewashed stone cottages in Cornish villages, on the streets of Lisbon with the brilliant (and sometimes faded) blue of the azulejos, colourful house fronts and yellow, green and red vintage trams, in the gaggle of houses that climb up the cliffy villages in the Cinque Terre and then on the astonishingly vivid street in Stavanger where colours pop off wooden houses. But nothing had prepared me for the bursts of colour that greeted us in Burano. The houses on the Venetian lagoon island had emerged out of a bag of M&Ms. The passage of time, I suspect, has faded some into pastel hues, but the lot of the buildings…