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Soul of Water, Heart of Glass

There are few places as achingly romantic as Venice, and few ways to wake up as sublimely as in a plush bed under a Murano chandelier, with the new day’s soft light reflecting off the canal’s still water outside your bedroom window. After a leisurely breakfast you’re met by a marine scientist for your private excursion on a luxury wooden boat through the Venetian lagoon. On your way to the islands you discuss the effects of climate change and changing water levels on this fragile city.

You then navigate alongside the agricultural island of Sant’Erasmo, where artichokes and asparagus are cultivated. You pass the famed islands of Burano and Torcello to the lesser known, but equally exciting, bone cemetery of Sant’Ariano and the island of la Cura (the Cure), where extensive research is taking place in order to examine the source of lagoon pollution. You then visit Murano, home to the city’s glass factories and artisans. You see glass artisans at work in local factories, learn how the craft of glass-making has evolved, and discover what makes Murano glass so unique. After lunch featuring local fish caught in the lagoon, you head towards the Lido Inlet where you visit the site of MOSE, a system of barriers that closes off the Lagoon from the Adriatic Sea during times of high water. Finally, you make your way back to the city.

After freshening up in your hotel you are met there by a Venetian woman and her batelina boat – similar to a gondola but more stable and comfortable. She is one of a group of passionate female expert rowers dedicated to the preservation of the traditional Venetian style of rowing: standing up, facing forward, and made iconic by the gondoliers. With her you get off the beaten path and onto the Venetian waterways, and she teaches you how to row.

Once you’ve become comfortable behind a Venetian oar, you row your batelina to the nearest bacaro (wine bar) where you taste sumptuous cicchetti (traditional Venetian finger foods) accompanied by a glass of sparkling prosecco or local wine. After a day on the water of this magical floating city, its soul is no longer be a mystery to you – it has washed over you like the warm embrace of an old friend.

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