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Visiting Murano: Venice's Glass Island
Venice is one of the most visited cities in the world and for good reason; there really is no other place quite like it. While there is plenty to see and do on Venice to keep any and all visitors occupied, a quick trip out to the island of Murano to see the world famous Murano Glass being crafted first hand makes for a great break from the crowds of Venice. Known worldwide for its beautiful Murano Glass, this small island is the place to be to see firsthand how this art is still done today.
If your visit to Venice is for more than a day then by all means consider taking the ten-minute vaporetto ride out to Murano Island. Murnao can be seen in a couple of hours if your time is short but if you happen to have a full day available then my recommendation would be to allocate a full day to see both Murano and the colorful island of Burano, known for its handmade lace and colorful homes.
Glass making on Murano Island dates back centuries to about 1291 when the glassmakers on Venice were forced to relocate to Murano. The order was given by the Venetian government as a precautionary move to avert a devastating fire on Venice given that most of the bridges and homes were constructed of wood. Thus was born Murano’s long and storied history as one of the most prominent centers of glassmaking in the world. Today, visitors can still see artisans making hand crafted glass in a number of foundries on Murano.
While there are other sites to see on Murano Island, undoubtedly most visitors come here to see the glass making and to take home some genuine Murano Glass. Over the centuries the prominent glass products made on Murano have grown and changed with the times from mirrors early on to jewelry, lighting fixtures, chandeliers, artistic pieces, and of course the world famous Murano glass beads.
The oldest and most well known glass factory on Murano is the Pauly & C. – Compagnia Venezia Murano Glass Company, which was established in 1866. They are well known for their decorative glass art pieces and elaborate chandeliers.
Beautiful Glass Bird
Torcello is another of the Venetian Lagoon islands. It is known for being quiet and sparsely populated although it is the oldest continuously populated area of Venice.
While on Murano there are a number of places where you can stop to watch the art of glass making in progress. A number of the foundries have observation rooms and windows so that visitors can observe the process. You can also opt for a more formal tour, which will include the Museo del Vetro, the Museum of Glass. Established in 1861 the museum is housed in a palace that was at one time the Town Hall of Murano and prior to that was the residence of the bishop of Torcello. The museum traces the history of glass making here in Venice and has a number of exhibits and events. If you have a keen interest in the art of glass making or its history plan on spending some time touring the museum.
Murano Glass Display
Besides the glass making on Murano there are a couple of interesting churches worth visiting to distract you from all of the glass foundries and shops. The Basilica dei Santa Maria e San Donato dates from the early twelfth century and is notable for its marble and glass mosaic floor, which resembles that of the Basilica di San Marco. It also contains a beautiful mosaic dome of the Virgin Mary.
The Church di San Pietro Martire, which was built in the 15th century and then reconstructed in 1511 after a fire destroyed the church, contains a couple of canvases done by Bellini. Both churches are worth a visit while you are here.
Another very popular spot on the island is the Campo Santo Stefano, which is notable for its clock tower that dates to the 19th century. There are some interesting glass pieces on display in the square including the beautiful blue glass sculpture pictured below.
The Campo Santo Stefano is located just across the canal from the Church of San Pietro Martire and is a favorite gathering spot of locals and visitors alike.
- Getting around in Venice
Vaporetto lines, schedules and fares.
A number of vaporetto lines will get you from Venice to Murano; lines 3, 12, 13, 4.1, 4.2, and 7. The ride to Murano is only about 10 minutes or so but this will depend on where you depart from. From the Fondament Nove station on the north side of Venice you will take the number 12 vaporetto, which stops at Murano on its way to the outer island of Burano. Other lines that leave from along the Grand Canal and from Piazza Roma will take longer.
For a complete list of Venice vaporetto lines and routes check out the ACTV website link. A single 60 minute ticket will cost 7 euro but there are a number of combination and multi-day passes available.
If you are visiting Venice for more than a day consider a trip out to Murano to see some true artists at work in their trade. Murano and the outer island of Burano make for great daytrips from Venice and give visitors an opportunity to see another side of this magical place. Enjoy your visit to Murano.
Ciao for now.
Other Articles on Venice
- Venice's Colorful Burano Island
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© 2013 Bill De Giulio