Murano Glass, Beyond the Venetian Craft

History of Murano Glassmakers

Glassmaking has been dominant in Venice since the 10th century, when Venice was the main glass producer in the West.
It is a legacy of the descendants of the Romans who, at the fall of the empire, fled to the lagoon.
The presence of raw materials in quantity – sand and local marine vegetation – and the position of the city, open to the East, allowed the Venetians to acquire an unequalled know-how.
In the 12th century, Venice had many furnaces and the city’s glassblowers were masters at making mainly windows and mirrors.

Oriane's Opinion

And then at the end of the 12th century, following many fires throughout the city, the doges decide to transfer the industry to the island of Murano.

Angel's Opinion

Pffff! Oriane! Don’t tell me you believe this official version!!! It’s actually a story about big money, or of economic stakes to be politically correct!

The republic of the city of the Doges, aware of the risks of leakage of this almost exclusive knowledge in Europe decided to move the glassblowers from the Serenissima to the island of Murano in order to better monitor them, and prevent them from having contact with the outside world to export their knowledge. In case of non-compliance with this prohibition, these glass artisans risked the death penalty! Yes, the city of lovers has not always been so romantic!

The Creativity of Murano's Master Glassmakers

In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the master glassmakers of Murano diversified their production by making artistic creations for decoration.
They created vases, chandeliers and all sorts of magnificent glass objects, using new and finer blowing techniques.
They invented :

  • A wide variety of colored glasses
  • Glasses containing brilliant copper crystals (aventurine)
  • Opaque glasses that imitate porcelain by adding tin oxide (lattimo)
  • Glass that looks like broken ice by adding frozen water to the glass paste (ghiaccio glass)
  • Cold assemblies of colored glass pieces to create a design that were then heated to make them stick together (millefiori)
  • Glass incised with a diamond point to draw patterns
  • Colorless glass with colored straws (watermarked glass)
  • Less expensive leaded glass used to make the famous Murano pearls for example.

At the end of the 17th century, competition from Bohemian glass caused the beginning of a decline that lead into the 19th century as crystal emerged as too strong a competitor for Venetian glass. But the Murano glass masters’ knowledge, passed down from generation to generation, is still recognized worldwide and exported to equip luxury homes and hotels around the world.

Murano Glass Venice Italy
Murano Glass Venice Italy

Excursion to the islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello

Duration 6h- Every day, Guided tour in English, visit the famous Venetian islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello and discover the handicrafts such as the glass workshops and lace making

Beware of counterfeits! The “Vetro Artistico Murano” label is the only one that attests to the object’s authenticity.

Murano Glass Label Venice
Murano Glass Label Venice

Here are some stores or workshops in Venice where you will find beautiful pieces to admire or to buy:

    • MMassimiliano Caldarone Glass Shop and Workshop
      Campiello Widmann5419B, Cannaregio
      Open Mo-Fr from 10:00 to 12:30 and from 15:30 to 18:45.
    • Marco Franzato – Shop and Workshop
      2176, Campo Santa Maria Mater Domini, Santa Croce
      Open Mon to Sat from 9:30 am to 7 pm and Sun from 9:30 am to 5 pm
    • Venini Shop
      Here, the best Murano glass designers are gathered. Vases, sculptures, lamps…
      Piazzetta dei Leoncini 314, San Marco
    • Marina e Susanna
      Two women architects who go beyond the tradition of Murano glass to create objects and vases with very clean lines and modern designs
      San Marco 2090 (Ponte San Moisè) – Dorsoduro 669, 681 (campo san Vio) – San Polo70 (Sotoportego dei Oresi) – Murano Dondamenta Serenella, 20 10am to 5pm from Monday to Friday.
Murano Glass Venice Italy
Murano Glass Venice Italy

Undoubtedly, the most talented glass masters remain on the island of Murano.
You can take a trip to the island on vaporetto lines 3, 4.1, 4.2, 12, 13, and return at night via the NMU line.

To get an idea, you can visit the Museo del Vetro.
In this museum you will discover collections of glass produced in Murano’s workshops, in particular archeological pieces from excavations, precious works from the Renaissance and beautiful contemporary pieces. The store offers reproductions and creations made by Murano’s current master glassmakers.

Fondamenta Giustinian 8, Murano

Open every day from 10 am to 5 pm (6 pm in the summer). Please note that the ticket office closes 1 hour before the museum.

Admission 10 euros. (Free for children up to 5 years old, reduced rate of 7,5 euros for children from 6 to 14 years old, for students up to 25 years old, for seniors from 65 years old, and for group leaders).

Here is our selection (not exhaustive!) of craftsmen and artists:

  • Vetreria Artistica Reno Schiavon ©

Beautiful and authentic… Dishes, vases, sculptures and chandeliers, and you can see an artisan working at the back of the store.

Fondamenta dei Vetrai 7, Murano

Open every day from 9 am to 5 pm

  • Silvy Vetri Artistici d’Arte

In addition to the usual glass objects, Giovanni Moro reproduces miniature Venetian palaces in Murano glass.

Viale Bressagio 9, Murano

Tel : +394 15 27 50 19

  • The FeiToso di Toso Renzo workshop

The Fei Toso family masters traditional techniques to make beautiful pieces: mainly vases and glasses. The very discreet workshop is run by mother Lucia and her son Renzo. You can visit the workshop, but have to make a reservation.

Calle delle Conterie, 4, Murano

  • Eugenio Ferro

This traditional artistic glass factory in Murano was founded in 1929 by Eugenio Ferro and Giovanni Lazzarini.

Today it is run by Eugenio Ferro’s grandson, Dario Ferro, and it is still very famous today thanks to 3 master glassmakers: Francesco Ragazzi, Amedeo Rossetto and Santi Marino.

Fondamenta Navarego, 75, Murano

Open from Fri to Sun

Tel. : +394 15 27 47 39

  • Vetreria Artistica Colleoni

The Colleoni glass factory is Luigi Moro’s dream come true. Disappointed by the glass artisans who followed the tradition too much to the letter (according to him for lucrative ease above all, thanks to the fame of this ancient and famous art), he created a kind of craft village to help and supervise the innovative ideas of some glass artists. It is here that the great master Alessandro Barbaro expresses himself through art, creating very sculptural pieces. He makes remarkable use of the potential of colors and shapes to convey movement and passion in such a fragile and lifeless object as glass. In particular, he produces beautiful animals and enigmatic sculptures inspired by Picasso’s paintings. Elton John, Madonna, and “The Venitian Hotel” in Las Vegas have commissioned his work.

Fondamenta San Giovani dei Battuti, 12, Murano

Tel : +394 15 27 48 72

Open every day

Vetreria Artistica Colleoni MURANO Glas Venice

All information on the glass museum can be found on the Museo del Vetro Murano Venezia website Museo del Vetro Murano Venezia

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