On our third and final day in Venice, we decided to take a water taxi over to the island of Murano to see a glass blowing demonstration.
All the glass you find in Venice and most of Italy is handcrafted by experienced artisans on the island of Murano. It is after all called "The Glass Island".
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. By the late 14th Century, the daughters of glassmakers were allowed to marry into Venice's blue-blooded families.
Such pampered treatment had one catch: Glassmakers weren't allowed to leave the Republic. If a craftsman got a hankering to set up shop beyond the Lagoon, he risked being assassinated or having his hands cut off by the secret police--although, in practice, most defectors weren't treated so harshly.
What made Murano's glassmakers so special? For one thing, they were the only people in Europe who knew how to make glass mirrors. 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 emigrating to the New World.
My hubby pointing out where our stop will be. I suggest taking the number 5 water taxi over because it is a direct route to the island with one stop. We took the number 41 as suggested by the concierge at out hotel and it ended up taking us 40 minutes to get there.
Once you get off the water taxi you are instantly bombarded by salesmen who want you to get you visit their showroom opposed to many others you will find around the island.
We ended up deciding on Fornace Gino Mazzuccato because f their free entry sign. The free entry only meant that you were not charged to enter the showroom, but for a full glass blowing demonstration you did have to pay 6 Euro per person. The one upside to the entrance free for the demonstration is that you would get 20% off any purchases made from the showroom.
It was a fascinating sight to see the glass blowing artisan at work, and he made everything look so easy. We were lucky enough to see the full demonstration, with the glass blower making a vase and a horse.
Making the horse
The finished products for sale in the showroom. I ended up buying a little owl playing the drums. I could never afford one of the fancy chandeliers.