Visiting Murano, the Glass Island of Venice
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 in 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 firsthand, makes for a great break from the crowds of Venice. Known worldwide for its beautiful Murano glass, this small island is the place 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. Murano can be seen in a couple of hours if your time is short, but if you happen to have a full day available then I recommend allocating a full day to see both Murano and the colorful island of Burano (known for its handmade lace and colorful homes).
Glassmaking 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 since most of the bridges and homes were constructed of wood. From there, Murano’s long and storied history was born as one of the most prominent centers of glassmaking in the world. Today, visitors can still see artisans making handcrafted 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 glassmaking 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.
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 glassmaking 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.
Torcello is another one of the Venetian Lagoon islands. It is known for being quiet and sparsely populated, although it is the oldest continuously populated area of Venice.
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 di 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 for locals and visitors alike.
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 A.C.T.V. 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 day trips 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
- Top 10 Things to do in Venice, Italy
No city in the world can compare to Venice. My top 10 list of sights in Venice will take you off the beaten path as well as to all of the must see attractions. Check it out and get your walking shoes on.
- How to get from Marco Polo Airport to Venice
Planning a trip to Venice? Before you leave make sure you know your options for getting from Marco Polo Airport to Venice. The options are many and the cost varies depending on your mode of transportation.
© 2013 Bill De Giulio