But it was delightfully cosy and snug on our first visit to the brilliant Zanetti fornace where we were greeted by Damiano, the charismatic and generous director. The glass being made was commissioned by the Bottega Veneta fashion line, so we got in ahead to watch their creative design team working with the glass masters.
Off to Torcello, where the freezing bora wind howled around us, but once inside the ancient basilica of Santa Maria Assunta, originally built way ahead of any church in the city of Venice, we were warmed up by all the beauty. Incredible mosaics from the 11th and 12th centuries, and a serene, wonderful interior.
Otto got to pose on the infamous 'Throne of Attila', but we suspect that the Hunnic leader never got to see it, although it's generally believed that Torcello represents the proto-Venetian's attempt to escape the ravaging invaders, Huns and Lombards in particular. Extraordinary to think that Torcello, with a present population of about 12, was once a bustling, busy trading centre with thousands of inhabitants.
Then we went to Burano, most of the sensible people surreptitiously followed me to the excellent Da Romano restaurant to enjoy a plate of risotto del go, a speciality of the lagoon that foodies from around the world travel to enjoy.
Back in Venice, the next day, we welcomed the excellent lecturer, Charlie Gere and his wife, Lucinda, and enjoyed a cracking meal at Do Torri with our team leaders, Patrizia and Vicky, with Gregory Dowling and Jim
Torcello, seen from Burano, with the snowy mountains in the far distance.