Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Murano Glass Factory Tour

View of Venice from the water.

When you're visiting Venice you'll see lots of advertisements for boat rides over to Murano, another island in the Venetian lagoon, located less than a mile away.  You'll also see ads inviting you to take a free glass-making factory tour in Murano, and many people will tell you this is a scam to get you into the glass factory gift shop where a merciless Italian salesperson will sink his teeth into your leg and not let go until you buy something.  This was not our experience at all.  

When the kind concierge at our fabulous hotel, Pensione Accademia Villa Maravege in Venice, offered us a free water limo from their private dock to Murano, yes, we were a little bit suspicious, but decided to take the adventure.  The whole family enjoyed the luxury water boat, the gorgeous day on the sea, and the terrific views of Venice as we crossed the lagoon.  The limo dropped us off at a dock right in front of several glass factories, but no one was standing there shooing us in.  We looked around and decided for ourselves which factory to enter.  

There was no admission charge and the tour was not guided; we were able to stay and watch the glassblowing as long as we liked.  My kids, 11 and 8 at the time, were fascinated.  The process is quite interesting:  first, the tip of the blowpipe is preheated, then dipped in the molten glass in the furnace.  The glassblower, or glassmith, then inflates the molten glass into a bubble with a blow tube and continues to shape and form it using tongs, paper and shears.



Particularly dramatic to watch is the addition of color to the glass as it spins and swirls and stretches into a beautiful object.  Murano glassmakers still use centuries-old techniques and their fine Cristallo (crystalline glass), enameled glass, and refined craftsmanship are world-renowned.  At the end of the path through the factory we indeed found ourselves in the factory gift shop which we leisurely browsed without any sales pressure at all.  The kids each bought themselves a small souvenir with true appreciation for the handiwork involved.




The island of Murano looks very similar to Venice, only the feel is much quieter and more relaxed.  Beautiful architecture, canals, and bridges make it a lovely place to stroll about, and you're more likely to share the sidewalk with a resident carrying a bag full of groceries than with other tourists.

The Church of Santa Maria e San Donato in Murano.


A very interesting New York Times article recently described the challenges this little island is facing in preserving its glassmaking heritage as well as protecting the designation of origin of its creations in today's global economy.  It is hoping to increase tourism and other industry.  I hope it manages to adapt and survive.


Related posts:
Chocolate Making in Broc, Switzerland
Wooden Shoe Making in Gouda, the Netherlands
Cheese Making in Gruyères, Switzerland
Violin Making in Mittenwald, Germany
Porcelain Making in Delft, the Netherlands, and in Oberschliessheim, Germany

6 comments:

  1. I read the Glassblower of Murano earlier this summer and then watched a fascinating glassblowing demonstration on our cruise this summer. I would definitely like to see Murano - hopefully there will be a trip to Venice for us in the not too distant future.

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  2. Thank you for this article! Murano is indeed an enchanting destination, and, while not commonly placed at the top of the list for family vacations, it is a great place to experience with kids. In fact, Murano is a great living and breathing example of the central role that family and traditions play in a community and history. The-world famous Murano Glass is brought to us by masters whose fathers and grandfathers have been in this craft, and generations of glass-makers apprenticed their sons and daughters to make sure this precious art survived.

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  3. The picture said that you are fond of travelling. In Venice there are lots of beautiful places. There is a beautiful island but i did not recognize the name. That island is very nice. Thanks!!

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  4. Do you recall which factory you visited? Or should we just wing it?

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    1. I'm sorry, I don't remember seeing the name of the factory. Good luck to you!

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