Thursday, June 1, 2017

Murano, The Glass Island of Venice

Isola de Murano, a gem of an island, literally, is one of the string of man-made islands in Venice, Italy. It's a small island, separated by a wide body of water from the main island of Venice. and it's known as the glass capital of Italy.  When you check the map, it may to be close to each other, but it will take you about 45 minutes to get there. Even though it's small, the Venetian charm will definitely fascinate you.

The island had been the main fabricator of the finest glasswares in Italy and perhaps Europe.  It's both a home and a showroom for many Venetian glass artisans and is now being hailed as another must-see island in Venice as tourists can get a glimpse of the centuries-old way of of making art using glassworks.

Not many knew that glass industry was already established near Venice in the 7th century, and vessel glass was made there by the last quarter of the 10th century. But in 1291 the glass furnaces were removed to the island of Murano to remove the risk of fire from the city.

How to get to Venice driving?

To get there, you need to buy a ticket to ride a "vaporetti" or their water-bus public transpo.

From Milan, it may take you an average of three hours of drive but in our case, since we slept over at friends' house in Verona, it only took us one hour and 30 minutes.  However, we stopped over and found parking where the primary jumpoff to Venice is.

We ended up on Via della Libertà in Mestre. (Sometimes referred to as Venezia-Mestre, this sprawling, industrial, landlubbing suburb is technically a part of Venice but is as far from being what the tourist thinks of as "Venice").  If you keep following signs for "Venezia" and centro storico, Via della Libertà becomes a causeway over the lagoon called Ponte della Libertà.  Btw, look for the
Parcheggio sign as it means parking.

On the other side of the causeway, you'll arrive at a large square called Piazzale Roma, which serves as a bus terminus and turn-around spot, because this is the only bit of Venice accessible by car.

Instead of public buses, Venice has the vaporetti, a vessel public water ferries.

The vaporetto ( is a public ferry service that operates, for all intents and purposes, as the bus network of Venice.

My friend our tour guide, Elma, with my two girls

A short walk after taking off the vaporetti is a famous glass factory, their doors open so you can see the master glass-blower in action.  Next to it are several lined up stores of Murano glass arts and Venetian keepsakes. 

One of the stores with cool window display of Murano chandeliers and other glass masterpieces.  Make sure to bring lots of money as buying one piece of Murano, can be disappointing, as you may want to buy more and stock up on gift items for friends.

The small island is connect with bridge and has some smaller canals in between. Half a day is more than enough for you to explore the whole island, unless you want to watch a full-scale glass making demo, or more time if you want to visit the museum and more shopping to do.

A Secret place inside the alleys of Murano: Ex Chiesa di Santa Chiara Murano

The Ex Chiesa di Santa Chiara Murano is a newly restored medieval church, which offers visitors an experience of authentic Murano glass and Venetian arts and culture such as does not exist anywhere else in Venice.  There you can see live demonstrations of Murano glass making by contemporary glass masters, attend musical and theatrical performances, create your own perfumes and shop for collection of Murano glass.

Originally known as San Nicolo della Torre, the complex was home to group of Augustinian Monks from as early 1231.  In the mid-fourteenth century it passed to a group of Benedictine nuns who were, shortly thereafter, expelled from the place due to scandalous conduct.  They were replaced by the Franciscan nuns of Santa Chiara, from whom the Ex Chiesa di Santa Chiara also took its name.

Paid demo for glass-making.

Over the years artists have explored new techniques and went beyond making glasswares, such as the Sommerso (Submerged) Murano Glass, which you can find in Ex Chiesa.

Their Murano Glass Mirrors is the one that I adore, but sadly I couldn't possibly afford to bring it home.  If, however, you could but scared of breaking it in your baggages you can have the option of them shipping it your address.

On the same alley is the Vetreria Mazzuccato Fornace, a factory of the artist Gino Mazzuccato line of lights.

Apart from the beautiful pieces inside every store, in some areas along the walkways display some of the priced art pieces of the island.

So many designs to see. so many stores to enter, only a few time and money, but the experience is all worth it.

Apart from the showrooms which you can also visit (some are for free and some with entrance fees) there are a lot of "gelateria" or gelato stores, bars cafes and adorable restaurants.

Read about our lunch ordeal at Art Cafe and Food Restaurant on this link.

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