Murano Isle, Italy – Indoors, the enigmatic magicians of the glass patiently practice their art before scorching ovens, quietly transforming globs of molten glass into various items, from the ever-popular Murano glass beads to ornamental figurines, from rather simplistic household items to extremely intricate, museum-quality works of art. Outside, numerous shops spread along the labyrinthian canals like outposts, bewitching the eyes of visitors with the bright and colorful shimmers of the glassware on display. |
The secluded and small island of Murano may not have half the charm of Venice or its bohemian flavor, but it certainly breathes authenticity and has a solemn ambience to it everywhere you turn. Murano, which lies just 40 minutes away from central Venice by water bus (a little less by water taxi), is a peaceful and unostentatious community inhabited by about 7000 people. Yet, it has been the cradle and sanctuary for Italian glassmaking for centuries.
While it doesn’t enjoy the same tourist inflow as Venice, Murano takes pride in its ability to draw in the connoisseurs of Italian glassmaking, who roam the water canals and the narrow streets back and forth in search of fine glassware to enrich their collections with. Whether they are connoisseurs or not, truth is people don’t just arrive here accidentally, they come with a purpose. Some are driven by their curiosity to visit the cornerstone of Italian glassmaking in person, while others come for the stunning showrooms, determined to only walk away with a significant piece of glassware.
The showrooms are fantastic, stocked with Murano glass accessories, jewelry, sculptures, figurines, vases of all sizes and even crystal chandeliers decorated with intricate floral patterns. Although the stands do occasionally sport kitsch items like small glass figurines and household items, most pieces are genuine pieces of art, worthy of display in any of the world’s museums. This is because the core ingredient of Murano glass doesn’t lie in the recipe or the quality of the manufacturing process, but in the exquisite artistry, craftsmanship and the centuries old tradition. And talent alone weighs little without rigorous training – it takes many years of apprenticeship and hands-on practice to become a true master of the glass. Most artists started to acquire the craft at an early age and have committed themselves to the work all their lives.
If you ever have the chance to visit Murano, don’t hesitate to do so, for the remote cluster of islands, yet small, sure has plenty to offer. It became the center of the glassmaking industry by the late 13th century, when it actually supervened upon Venice itself. A century later, Murano glass was already famous the world over, enchanting people with delicate, colorful Murano glass beads and intricate ornamental mirrors. Throughout the ages, with the development of new technologies and the perfection of the existing array of techniques, Murano glassmaking would flourish into a magnificent, much sought after form of art.
The Murano Glass Museum offers an enjoyable and educative way to spend an afternoon on the island, so make sure you don’t miss out on that opportunity. Glass pieces displayed in the museum – which was founded in 1861 – date back as long ago as the first century A.D., and certain articles (especially those from the 15th century to our time) are remarkable works of art by all accounts.
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