The first time Mrs. MM and I were in Venice, we stayed at a super luxurious hotel with a fabulous view of the grand canal. It was a honeymoon trip that followed several months after we got married. We went to the famous rooftop terrace restaurant of the hotel for our breakfast, and as we sat at the table, and admired the abundance of crisp linen, sterling cutlery, crystal glasses, I noticed a card on the table that said “Breakfast Buffet $50 (equivalent then)” and that was some 17+ years ago, so the equivalent today would be roughly $150 or so! Needless to say, I nearly choked. But since we already had our tea and the fabulous buffet and view was probably worth experiencing at least once, we decided to continue with breakfast and simply make the most out of it! So Mrs. MM and I had several glasses of champagne with orange juice, I devoured the spectacular strawberries and cream, lots of salmon, and basically ate what we thought might do justice to the “fees”… I know it sounds a little pathetic, but we were younger then, and well, cheaper too. :)
When the bill came, I simply signed our room number and chalked this up to a lesson learned. For the next three days, we ate OUT for breakfast, having little pastries, etc. for just a few dollars a day. I was feeling so smug about having saved hundreds of dollars so far that on our final day in Venice, we returned to a rather modern looking Murano glass shop named Venini, and after some deliberation, we both settled on a wonderful light green flower vase, pronounced “vaaace” for the ma-arte, and paid all of our “breakfast savings” to buy it. I hand carried this vase home and we have used it hundreds of times since. We have also seen it for sale in many parts of the world, and as the years progressed, its price has shot skyward. It is still one of our MOST FAVORITE vases, and a lot of it has to do with the circumstances under which it was acquired. Read on.
When we finally checked out of The Danieli, the gentleman behind the desk reviewed our bill before asking me to sign and said “But you did not have breakfast with us for three out of four days, was there something wrong with our buffet or food?” I made up some dumb excuse about sleeping late because JUST at that moment, the hair on the back of neck stood up, the beads of sweat on my scalp formed in milliseconds, and I REALIZED that the bloody breakfasts WERE INCLUDED in our HOTEL ROOM RATE. There is only one word that would apply… TANGA, MARKETMAN!!! The little sign on the tables was meant to discourage “rubber neckers” and tourists who tried to experience the hotel by just buying breakfast on the roof terrace. PROBINSYANO. INNOCENTES. TANGA. Hahaha. I know better now to ask if breakfast is indeed included in the room tariff. :)
So on this recent trip, I sort of vowed to visit Venini again. The house of Venini is only about 90 years old, young for Murano glassmakers. But in recent years, it has really made a name for itself with wonderful modern designs and spectacular colors. We went to Murano for a brief day trip and spent some time in the Venini showroom, among others. We looked at vases (our favorite one is now out of production, and considered a vintage/classic), bowls, glasses and whimsical hourglasses. We were shocked by some of the prices, but happy to see our breakfast vase was now worth some 3x what we paid for it… Finally, after lunch, we returned and purchased a few small glass bowls, and I again had to hand carry these home, and will treasure them just like we do the vase. But it isn’t so much about the specific item or brand really, it’s more about the story behind it. :)