"Murano Island" Murano by smschley

Murano Travel Guide: 104 reviews and 347 photos

After the rude experiences our group had in Venice, the short boat ride to Murano seemed like it took us to a different country. Where the Vientiane’s were cold and indifferent, the people in Murano were warm and attentive.

Murano was a commercial port as far back as the 7th Century, and by the 10th Century it had grown into a prosperous trading center with its own coins, police force, and commercial aristocracy. Then, in 1291, the Venetian Republic ordered glassmakers to move their foundries to Murano because the glassworks represented a fire danger in Venice, whose buildings were mostly wooden at the time.

It wasn't long until Murano's glassmakers were the leading citizens on the island. Artisans were granted the right to wear swords and enjoyed immunity from prosecution by the notoriously high-handed Venetian state. The one catch was Glassmakers weren't allowed to leave the Republic.

What made Murano's glassmakers so special was that they were the only people in Europe who knew how to make a mirror. They also developed or refined technologies such as crystalline glass, enameled glass (smalto), glass with threads of gold (aventurine), multicolored glass (millefiori), milk glass (lattimo), and imitation gemstones made of glass. Their virtual monopoly on quality glass lasted for centuries, until glassmakers in Northern and Central Europe introduced new techniques and fashions around the same time that colonists were immigrating to the New World

The tradition of the Maestri Vetrai has been handed down from father to child till today, and it is still jealously preserved by the Venetian government, which has always protected it.

Everything made of Murano glass - from the murrine to the filigrees, from the chandeliers to the chalices - is the result of work, imagination, discoveries and inventions bound together with a continuous thread which goes from the Middle-Age to the Renaissance, right up to us.

  • Last visit to Murano: Sep 2002
  • Intro Updated Jul 29, 2004
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