The necklace

by Rebecca Bricker on March 3, 2013

When I travel, I like to wander off the beaten path.

After the ferry docked at Faro, on the Venetian island of Murano – famous for its art glass – a crush of day-trippers hit the beaten path. I was among them. We gathered at the open doors of a glass factory, not far from the dock, and watched an artisan transform a molten orb into an elegant vase.

The tourist shops were waiting for us, offering earrings and goblets and ashtrays as souvenirs. One shop owner gave me a tour of his extensive showrooms, filled with amazing pieces.

I wandered on…past the trattoria where most of my fellow travelers had stopped for lunch. Surely there was more to Murano than this, I thought.

In a little piazza beyond the trattoria, tongues of red, yellow and violet glass formed a sculpture that, in the brilliant sunlight, looked like a bonfire. I walked around it, intrigued with its construction and awed by its artistry.

I kept walking and turned a corner…to see the real Murano, a lovely village that lines a canal traversed by fishing boats. My itinerary for the day changed in an instant. I felt no rush to leave this place – other Venetian islands could wait for another day.

 

 

 

 

The shops along the canal weren’t like the tourist shops by the dock. I went into one where an older Italian woman showed me a strand of vintage Murano beads.

“How can you tell old from new?” I asked her. I was a Murano bead newbie, but she seemed pleased to give me my first lesson.

She moved aside a book on the display case about contemporary Murano glass and pulled out an old book, a bit tattered around the edges, from under the counter. As she slowly turned the pages, she pointed to beads in the book that were in the necklace – some dated back to 1911.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I continued my walk along the canal, my sights set on a clock tower in the distance. At the base of the tower was another beautiful sculpture – this one made of tapered tubes of blue glass, the color of the sky that day. Standing next to it, I felt like I was in the spray of a crashing wave.

I wanted to take a photo of the tower and the sculpture, but I couldn’t quite get everything in the frame. So I walked backwards across a little piazza – back, back, back – until I was at the front door of a boutique. Curious, I stepped inside the shop – and a lovely, stylishly dressed woman greeted me. Her name was Monica.

Monica makes exquisite jewelry from vintage Murano beads. She showed me a necklace with three strands of very thin black glass tubules – just slightly wider than the strand they were strung on – separated by tiny round mauve-colored beads. The strands were made of moldable wire so that the necklace can be scrunched into different shapes and lengths.

I put it on.

“Step outside,” Monica said. She held a hand mirror framed by a garland of Murano glass flowers.

“It’s gorgeous,” I said, fingering the beads, which sparkled in the sun. “Of course, it’s even more beautiful in a mirror like this.”

Monica smiled. “This necklace is made of vintage Murano beads from the 1920s,” she said.

She, too, had a book. She showed me photos of tubular beads like the ones in the necklace. “They’re from lamp shades, wall sconces and dresses women wore in the ’20s.”

“Flapper dresses,” I said.

“Yes, exactly.”

I had found my perfect souvenir from Murano. But this story gets better…

As Monica carefully wrapped and boxed the necklace – it’s made of glass, after all – I thanked her for sharing the story of the beads. I told her that I write a blog and asked if I could photograph the page from the book she had shown me. I promised I’d email her and gave her my card, which has the cover of my book on it.

She looked at the card for a moment, then looked up at me in surprise. “I know about this book,” she said. “About four or five weeks ago, a woman was here in the shop from Santa Barbara and told me about this book.”

I suddenly had goosebumps. “How can that be?” I asked her. My book has resonated with a small international group of women – but the key word in that sentence is small. πŸ˜‰ “I’ve come halfway around the world, to this little island…”

We looked at each other in amazement.

“I was in the piazza taking a photo, stepping back to get the shot I wanted,” I said. “But actually, I think I was feeling the magnetic pull of this place.”

Monica smiled and took my hand. “I’m so happy to meet you – at last.”

As I walked back to the ferry dock later that afternoon, little tears squirted from the outside corners of my eyes. Not the inside corners, where sad tears come from. These tears were from the wonder and amazement that comes when you let the current pull you to places and people you don’t even know.

On the night last December when I presented my book at Florence’s historic literary cafe Giubbe Rosse, I wore Monica’s necklace – the souvenir of an extraordinary journey.

(I have no idea who the woman from Santa Barbara is – but if you’re reading this, please drop me a line.)

 

 

Monica’s shop:

Ferro Vetro di Monica Cavaletto

Campo S. Stefano 7

30141 Murano, Italy

 

 

 

 

 

{ 18 comments }

Thom March 3, 2013 at 4:59 am

Forgive the metaphor, Spring training has begun, another home run here. Grand slam, as it were. It is a common theme with you, being open to the possibilities of the universe. How wonderful it is to allow the Divine connective-ness to bring us into moments of joy, laughter, love, drama, tears, and all the rest. It is a part of that biblical saying, “Let them with ears hear.” With eyes, see; with lives, live. I am so glad I get to participate in your living life, it is such an inspiration. Keep staying with the flow. I have found the best moments of my life have happened in the midst of “other plans.”
When Joan and I were just starting out we used to take vacations that had two rules, stay off the Interstate and allow for whim. We only had reservations for motels and followed whatever may Coe between point A and point B. There was some magical moments in there.
Again, this was a wonderful story, I may have to use it someday in a sermon. πŸ˜‰
Thom

Rebecca Bricker March 3, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Are we talkin’ Wrigley Field here? I love the thought of riding on a fly ball into those bleachers. ;D Thank you, as always T, for traveling vicariously with me. If this inspires you to write a sermon, please share it with me! Baci.

Jackie Lamothe March 3, 2013 at 6:42 am

I love picturing you walking n wonder down those lovely streets of Murano. It is no surprise that the grace filled forces of the universe engineered this wonderful meeting. Ain’t life grand?

Rebecca Bricker March 3, 2013 at 12:09 pm

There are moments when it’s blissfully beyond belief. :)

Sarah McKee March 3, 2013 at 11:47 am

Yet another delight!

Please, stay off those beaten paths!

Rebecca Bricker March 3, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Can I talk you into wandering this way? We could do the unbeaten paths together. πŸ˜€

Carol Anna McBride, Psychotherapist/Film Instructor/photographer March 3, 2013 at 11:52 am

This was perfect! How touching, and such a small connected world we live in.
Thank you for this beautiful post!

Rebecca Bricker March 3, 2013 at 12:17 pm

I’m going through a big change here – finding a new apartment. Not my favorite activity. But I’m trying to make it FUN and an opportunity to let serendipity come into play. It’s all about opening yourself to possibilities – some that you can’t even imagine.

muddygloves March 3, 2013 at 12:10 pm

MY DEAR BECKY:
I AM TRAVELING WITH YOU VICARIOUSLY AND INCIDENTLY, SAVING A BUNDLE. IT IS SO WONDERFUL TO ‘SEE’ THE BEAUTY THAT YOU SEE, IN MY MIND.

I MISS YOU BUT SO HAPPY TO READ YOUR T’ALES FROM TAVANTI AND BEYOND’.

‘TALES FROM HOME’ INCLUDE TWIN BOYS GREAT GRAND, AND A GREAT GRAND DAUGHTER! A WEDDING ON THE HORIZON, , JUNE. LOVE NAD HUGS,

Rebecca Bricker March 3, 2013 at 12:20 pm

My sweet Carol – I’ve been seeing the adorable new babies in your family on Facebook. You must be over the moon. Big hugs to all of you! p.s. you travel with me in spirit wherever I go. πŸ˜€

Patrick March 3, 2013 at 1:06 pm

great story Becky! Thanks again for sharing!

Rebecca Bricker March 4, 2013 at 12:53 am

Pat – you’d love Murano. It’s a photographer’s dream.

Pat March 3, 2013 at 11:33 pm

Oh, Rebecca, what an amazing story and how true about the spirit of adventure pulling you into the shop where you met a woman who knew about your book. I have been to Murano (along with 125 high school students) and fell in love with the light and color. Reading your post makes me long to go back sans les enfants!

Rebecca Bricker March 4, 2013 at 12:50 am

Pat, let me know when you’re going back to Murano – and I’ll join you. We’ll go to Monica’s shop – she’s a delight. And then we’ll have lunch at a trattoria in that little piazza – the best calamari I’ve EVER had. I can still taste it. πŸ˜€

Marion March 4, 2013 at 6:08 am

Becky,
Love your story and necklace! I would love to go exploring with you. Had to share
That my daughter, Lindsay, went to Murano a few years ago and went to the
Glass factories and purchased a beautiful chandelier with the same blue glass by the
Clock tower. The chandelier is surely the focal point of her dining room. Keep sending
Your secret finds.

Rebecca Bricker March 4, 2013 at 7:39 am

Ciao Marion! I’d love to see that chandelier – email me a photo! Come visit me and I’ll take you to some amazing places. Seriously!!

Debbie Ferris March 6, 2013 at 9:05 pm

Wonderful story! Beautiful glass & beads! This blog should be called “Traveling vicariously through Becky!” One day I hope to visit Italy and see just a few of the things you have seen. Until then, I will be “Traveling vicariously through Becky”

Deanna Roty November 20, 2014 at 12:28 am

I had read this article while in Venice, and managed to find Monica’s store. How could one help but purchase the beautiful things in that store?!?!? Well, the funny part is that I had e-mailed myself this article, and just came across it. After reading it, I had to laugh because I think I bought a very similar necklace with the long black beads that you wrote about! (I didn’t remember that description when I was actually int he store, because I was too overwhelmed by the beauty of all of Monica’s creations.) I get so many compliments on it.

Monica was a very friendly and nice person also. We chatted for quite a while and she even gave me some beads to take home to my daughter, so that she could make a necklace!

Oh, and by the way, what a dream Murano is! Can’t wait to get back there!!!

Previous post:

Next post: