Murano – Island of Glass

murano7After Venice, the most visited place in the lagoon of Venice is Murano -  seven islands archipelago (like Venice) connected by a bridge. The island has been inhabited by fishermen and fruit growers since the 6th century, but the last few centuries is famous for its glass.
murano1Although the glass production  was known earlier (the glass was produced in Mesopotamia and Egypt as well), the Romans improved it, and the Venetians made  an art from it. By the 13th century, glass was produced in Venice and it was one of the main export products of the Venetian Republic, known as Venetian glass.
murano3But in 1291 glass manufacturers were banned from Venice, allegedly because of the danger of fire from the glass furnaces and they were relegated  to the island of Murano. Since twenty years before the import of glass into Republic of Venice  and the employment of foreign workers in the glass industry were prohibited by the law, it is more likely that the master glassblowers were isolated on Murano  in order to prevent them  sharing their valuable glassmaking knowhow with foreigners.
murano5In 1295, new regulation forbade glass manufacturers to have any contact with strangers or to leave the territory of the Republic of Venice. They were committed to lifelong  glass work, and for any escape attempt  were punished by death.  Three thousand of then seven thousand inhabitants  were  in some way involved in glass manufacturing.  Although isolated and under strict regime, glass manufacturers were still enjoying the benefits: they had the status of privileged citizens who are allowed to carry swords (like royalty), it was not possible to raise any complaint against them, and their daughters were married in the best Venetian families.
murano10In the new conditions glasswork  developed and improved so  Venice had a glass manufacturing monopoly  in Europe for centuries,  especially crystal glass (mirrors), and enameled glass, glass with threads of gold, multicolored glass, milk glass (that replaced chinaware).
murano8However, even under threat of death, some masters of their craft had escaped from Murano transferring their knowledge to other parts of Italy and throughout Europe. In the 18th century, demand for Murano glass started to decline, but a special tradition of making it is still alive.
murano12Already on exit from the vaporetto you will be greeted by various representatives of still living craft workshops which will refer you to ‘their’ production facility. You should visit a brief making glass objects presentation, which is free, but the glass making masters will humorously show you how extremely hot it is by the furnaces and that their throats are dry in order to motivate you to leave some euros, so that they can satisfy their thirst.
murano001The guide will make his ten minutes show; he will  tell you a brief story about the glass production, craftsmen will demonstrate how glass is formed and then will  escort you to a gallery that each factory owns, hoping  that you will buy something from them.
murano002Do not be shocked, all  genuine Murano glass articles are quite expensive. During recent years craftsmen from Murano are fighting against many fake Chinese copies of Murano glass. Of course, the Chinese copies are much cheaper and many tourists will reach out to cheap souvenir convinced that it is made of Murano glass. Murano masters warn that up to 70 percent of glass objects in Venice are made of fake Murano glass, some works are so good that even masters can hardly say whether it is original or fake Chinese copies.
murano2Even the products labels (originally Italian or Murano) are forged. It is safest to buy glass in some of the famous glass factories and their galleries or shops (which are generally not allowed to photograph).
murano11Did you know that the red Murano glass is more expensive than other colors glass? Namely, the glass is  colored with certain dissolved metals and minerals, and the famous Murano red color comes by adding  the mixed gold dust  to hot fluid glass mass.
murano9Visit Burano, the island of lace, today best known for its cheerful facades.
Island of San Giorgio Maggiore
Venice – Queen of the Adriatic

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