Murano is just a mile north of Venice - so no excuses for not visitng whilst here. Its actually a cluster of 5 islets, linked by bridges. The famous venetain glassware can be seen in workshops here - thats the touristic bit - but also just wander around the canals and take in the views. Its a miniature version of Venice and much more peaceful! We stayed on Murano for 4 nights in July 2004 so please see my Murano page for more details and info.
When we went to Murano it was raining and storming very hard, so instead of walking around first, we went to Glass Museum directly. Not too many people were there, probably the bad weather had prevented many tourists from going to Murano that day.
The museum has lots of glass items on display, arranged according to the centuries in which they had been made. We saw beautiful things, including a huge centerpiece in the shape of a garden. Wonderful as it was to look at, I felt pity with the poor servants who had to clean it and set it up on the table.
Much detailed information was given on the process of glass making. This was very interesting, I had never known how many different kinds of glass there are.
Before we went out in the rain again, we had a coffee( from a machine !), which was better than many coffees in restaurants in Germany. And for just 50 cent it was really cheap.
The entrance fee to the museum was 2,50 Euro. It's worth going there even in sunshine.
Ingrid (VT member Trekki) told me, that the entrance fee is now 5,50. I don't know if we looked like senior citizens and got the reduced rate? Or we were thought to be the teachers of a school class who had been waiting before us?
If you've got more than 1 day in Venice, a trip to one of the Lagoon Islands should be in your list. The most popular are Burano and Murano.
Murano is the closest, and accessable by a 20 minute boat ride from San Marco and other departure points in Venice. (Transportation tip on my page tells you how to get there).
The island offers a break from the often overbearing crowds of Venice. The island is famous for it glass works, with most shops, a museum, and many factories on the island dedicated to the art of glasswork.
This path is pretty beaten actually. Of the 3 islands outside venice.. this is probably the most visited island. Tours come here by throngs.. and everybody else comes here to find a good buy to bring back home. I wanted to get something back too.. But the good quality pieces were so pricey.. so i had to settle with a sub standard piece.. but i still like my buys.. cherries.. a plate and a gondola figurine.
I bought some other gifts too.. like a wine bottle stopper which was nice.. and small pendants for my gfs.
Go to St Mark's Square and take a right towards the water. Someone will approach you regarding a trip on a boat to Murano. Take the free boat ride that is sponsored by a glass blowing company.
The boat ride is a nice experience and it's free. That's $100 cheaper than the gondola ride!
The glass company representatives are not high pressure.
Have lunch and then hop on the vaporetto to get back to Venice.
The first stop on our cruise was the island of Murano. Even though it covers less than one square mile, Murano is still one of the biggest islands in the lagoon - it's also one of the closest to Venice. In 1291, the Venitian doge ordered all glass factories to be moved to the more secluded island of Murano because of the fire risk they represented in Venice. From then on, the island's main industry became - and still is - glassmaking. For a while, Murano was Europe's biggest glass producer and even to this day, any time you step in a historic palazzo, you can be sure to see some Murano glass chandeliers. It took up to 30 years to develop the skills necessary to be recognized as a top glassmaker but when you did, you were sure to move around society's highest spheres - the only problem was that you were not allowed to leave the Republic and those who did escape could never return for fear of being caught and executed.
Our boat stopped at Fornace Estevan Rossetto, one of the island's numerous glass factories, where we were invited to take a spot at the back of the workshop and watch three glassmakers work for a while. Glass is not something I'm really interested in (I find it a bit tacky to be honest) but watching these men create fabulous pieces was simply captivating! One of them took a few seconds (and I do mean a few seconds) to make a prancing horse for us, which is the symbol of the island. We were then invited to take a look around the factory's gallery, and I did appreciate the fact that we were not pressured into buying anything (which is a good thing because Murano glass is very expensive!). In fact, we were just about to leave when I spotted a tiny glass pig that was of course perfect for my international pig collection - it cost a whopping 13 Euros, but you have to admit that it's a pretty unique souvenir :o)
A mini Venice complete with its own Grand Canal, Murano is a separate archipelago of islands located about 10-15 minutes by boat north of Venice. Historically, it was a separate town, but in modern times it merged with the Venice commune. Although inhabited since ancient times, Murano did not emerge until 1291, when Venice forced all of its glass manufacturers to move there due to the high risk of fire. The town developed in a similar architectural plan as Venice, with canals, bridges, churches and palaces. Although the glass manufacturing industry has declined in recent times, it continues to be the island's main industry. Thus, the island is filled with shops selling the world-famous Murano glass in every shape and style. Murano makes a nice excursion from Venice for an afternoon or a day, not only to shop for glass and to visit the glass museum, but also to glance at some of its historic churches.
Despite the fact that the Museo Vetrario was closed and the canals were under construction there still were some nice sites we wanted to visit. Murano with a similar shape to Venice, is a nine island system, connected by wooden and masonry bridges, crossing the Canal Grande (Grand Canal). And because we had time on our hands we spended more time of our visit at the island's architectural highlight, the Veneto-Byzantine Basilica di Santi Maria e Donato, with a colonnaded apse facing the canal to welcome people arriving from the sea. This is quite a distinguished fact that the back part is facing the Canal Grande, while the main part is oriented to the Orient side. The church was in origin dedicated to the Madonna and in a second moment to San Donato. It´s a Hexogonal plant facade, and a typical revennate basilica. The line of blind arches on the groundfloor is repeated on the gallery above. Between these two levels runs a series of triangles decorated with flowers and animals.
Maybe this ancient church is deceptively simple in outward appearance, but it is richly decorated inside. Inside you'll find a 12th century mosaic pavement presenting high quality ornament motive and symbolic animal figures and also the Madonna Orante image. We also learned that the foundation and its cellars go back to the 7th century and this makes it the oldest building of the entire lagoon.
The island of Murano.
Murano can be reached from the Fondamenta Nuove taking the LN Line.
Like Venice, Murano has some very narrow streets. This one on Murano could hardly fit two people down it - especially some of the larger members on our tour. It is no wonder then that many get lost when walking around these places (Venice especially). This closeness is very typical of the area and largely due to the lack of land so the locals have to make the best use of what they have!!
Not your usual place to visit I grant you, but on walking through the back streets of the Island of Murano we found this beautiful and very well kept up cemetery.
Im sure if we had headstones like this in England they would sadly be smashed very quickly.
To get to the cemetery its called Cimtero Nuovo on the maps and from the Venier waterbus stop go right up St Com del Cimtero and its straight ahead.
The word Murano nowadays suggests glass factories and glass blowing. In fact the development of this island in the Middle Ages is strictly connected with glass. Like we said at the end of the 13th century the Venetian government decided to move all existing glass factories in Venice to the island. Because of this decision the methods of the craft became such a well-guarded secret that it was considered treason for glass-workers to leave the island.
Finally we saw some glass-workers in action and that was quite fascinating! We saw the workers in several outlets along Fondamenta dei Vetra, but were told that there are also a couple on Viale Garibaldi, just look for the sign "Fornace" (furnace). We witnessed someone creating glass from sand using fire and air. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take any pictures. We asked the question why Murano´s glassmakers were so special. They answered us that they were the only people in Europe who knew how to make a mirror at that time. But they also developed or refined technologies such as crystalline glass, enameled glass (smalto), glass with threads of gold (aventurine), multicoloured glass (millefiori), milk glass (lattimo) and imitation gemstones made of glass. Their virtual monopoly on quality glass lasted for centuries. After this nice conversation they allowed us to take two pictures. How about that?
The island of Murano.
Murano can be reached from the Fondamenta Nuove taking the LN Line.
Murano has many wonderful buildings to wander around including this tower and church ensemble. As the Island is fairly small it doesn't take too long to walk around and get a good idea of the history of Murano. Not as colourful as Burano but very nice all the same.