We took a free "tour" of Murano from our hotel, which was basically a short demonstration of glass-sculpting and then a tour of the showroom. We saw a lot of impressive artwork, but it was all a little out of our price range.
Murano is a series of islands linked by bridges in the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy. It lies about 1.5 kilometres (0.9 miles) north of Venice and measures about 1.5 km (0.9 mi) across with a population of just over 5,000 (2004 figures). It is famous for its glass making. It was once an independent comune, but is now a frazione of the comune of Venice.
Murano was initially settled by the Romans and from the sixth century by people from Altinum and Oderzo. At first, the island prospered as a fishing port and through its production of salt. It was also a centre for trade through the port it controlled on Sant'Erasmo. From the eleventh century, it began to decline as islanders moved to Dorsoduro.
Early in the second millennium hermits of the Camaldolese Order occupied one of the islands, seeking a place of solitude for their way of life. There they founded the Monastery of St. Michael. This monastery became a great center of learning and printing. The famous cartographer, Fra Mauro, whose maps were crucial to the European exploration of the world, was a monk of this community. The monastery was suppressed in 1810 by French forces under Napoleon, in the course of their conquest of the Italian peninsula, and the monks were expelled in 1814. The grounds then became Venice's major cemetery.
In 1291, all the glassmakers in Venice were forced to move to Murano due to the risk of fires. In the following century, exports began, and the island became famous, initially for glass beads and mirrors. Aventurine glass was invented on the island, and for a while Murano was the main producer of glass in Europe. The island later became known for chandeliers. Although decline set in during the eighteenth century, glassmaking is still the island's main industry. Unfortunately, glass-making has become almost a lost art as less people are learning the skills that it takes to make glass sculptures.
Read more about Murano (link opens in a new window).