Some years ago, during a visit to Venice, we were persuaded to take a tour by water taxi to Murano to view the famous glass factories.
The ride was pleasant, the visit to the factory interesting. Afterwards we were led to a gallery where works of art in glass were on display. We were suitably impressed, especially when we found a very modest vase signed by the artist that could be purchased as little as $3,000.00! The resident salesperson soon saw we were not into works of art, at which point we were shuttled off to the china shop. Here we found Japanese visitors selecting 99-piece sets of china and glass at prices that still seemed to us exorbitant. We were obviously not yet ready to buy.
In a last ditch effort, we were directed to the nether regions of the factory, the souvenir shop. Here we were given the "hard sell". The salesperson pointed out that the factory had spent a great deal of money bringing us here, so least we could do was to purchase something made by the skilled hands of the local artisans. In order to be released from this horrible place, we decided to buy a glass ship in a bottle. Labeled "Pinta 1492", we thought it was rather appropriate, it being 1992, and the 500th anniversary of that daring voyage. The audacious sum of $24.00 was paid; we were finally allowed to depart, albeit without a ride home.
Happy with our purchase, it took pride of place in our china cabinet as our cherished memory of Venice.
But how rapidly illusions can come crashing down! During a recent foray to a local Wal-Mart store, we espied "Pinta 1492" in all shapes and sizes. One exactly like ours was on special offer at $18.95. The distress of seeing our lovely souvenir in bulk at the store was bad enough; that it was cheaper than in Venice was almost the last straw. Worst was yet to come! I lifted it off the shelf and turned it over. You guessed it – "Made in China"!
May the glass factory sink forever into the odoriferous canals of Venice!