Murano is an island in Venetian lagoon popular for its glass making factories. The island of Murano is a group of seven islands connected by the bridges running over the canals. Murano combined with Burano and another island Torcello makes for a great day trip from Venice. We could not visit the islands the last time we visited Venice but made sure we did not miss it on the second visit.
We boarded a bus from the location of our apartment to the bus station near Piazzale Roma bus station. Our plan was to board a waterbus from Ferrovia near the Piazzale Roma just opposite the bus station. We bought a one-day Tourist Travel Card from the ticket booth at Waterfront exit, grabbed some yummy patisseries from a corner shop and hopped onto the waterbus.
Our ferry chugged past the colorful packed houses and restaurants lining the shores of the canal. As we moved farther from the center the scene was mostly of the locals busy with their daily chores and some dilapidated houses with worn out plaster and moss covered stairs.
As we cruised deeper into the Laguna the picture perfect view of Venice with its towering buildings and bell towers fitted into a perfect frame rising out of the calm lagoon waters. Ferry maneuvered through the channels marked by the wooden logs strapped together. And the enchanting age-old buildings gradually faded away in the distance.
We disembarked at Colonna, Murano. We gathered information from a kiosk at the ferry stop and started walking along the canal. The promenade running along the canal is lined with ample of glass showrooms, factories, and gift shops. Beautiful chandeliers and glass items shone brightly through the glass windows of the shops. Murano is also known for making exquisite glass mosaics which was evident at one of the entrances alongside the canal.
While most of the factories in Murano offer a demo for the glass-making process, many seemed to stick to their business and refrained from entertaining the tourists. After enquiring through a couple of shops we finally found a shop called ‘Glass Art Gino Mazzuccato’ that demonstrated the process. A lady at the entrance greeted us and switched on the lights which illuminated the corridor. We bought the tickets and joined a couple of tourists already waiting inside.
The artisan demonstrated us the technique of glassmaking called ‘Massello’. The artisan blew air through a mass of glass heated in the furnace at 1100 deg giving it desired shape and volume of a vase. And then strings of melted glass was used to decorate the exterior of the object. The worker informed us of different mineral oxides they used for colors in the glass like cobalt for blue, rummy for green, manganese for black and selenium for red.
We gawked in awe as two men at work carried out the process calmly creating masterpieces. Once done the artisan placed a paper on the ready glass item which immediately caught fire and burnt to ashes indicating the high temperatures of the glass.
Originally all the glass factories were located on the main island of Venice. In 1291 all the glass furnaces of Venice were ordered to be moved to Murano island, to avoid the risk of possible fires in Venice where the houses were mostly built of wood back then. Since then Murano is the name for high quality and elegant glass items made with traditional techniques and innovative designs passed on to the generations by the skilled masters of glass making.
We strolled along the canal side watching the colorful buildings and the window-shopping the glass showrooms. The houses were painted in bright hues though not as vibrant as the colorful houses of Burano or painted houses of Appenzell. The window boxes were bedecked with fresh gorgeous blossoms. We came across several ancient squares and restaurants with the outdoor seating along the canal.
A 19th Century clock tower at the end of promenade looked very interesting with a bizarre glass sculpture at its foot. The clock tower is said to be built on the location of the bell tower of an older parish church.
Just across the canal is the remarkable church Chiesa di San Pietro Martire. The colossal church is said to be reconstructed in 1509 in the location of a 15th-century church destroyed in a fire.The church has beautiful paintings by renowned painters.
Beyond the church is the main Canal of Murano. We crossed the canal on a large bridge running over the Grand Canal of Murano.
The other side of the bridge is also lined with plenty of glass showrooms and factories. It was fascinating watching several of the interesting glass works as we walked along the canal. We came across this pretty floating vegetable shop on the way where the locals bought veggies and chitchatted with the veg seller.
At the end of the promenade is the glass museum housed in an ancient Gothic style palace. The glass museum offers an insight into the history and evolvement of Venetian glassmaking with a collection of Murano glass from all over the world dating back to 15th century. Read more about the glass museum of Murano.
Just beside the Donato Canal few steps ahead of the Glass Museum stands the imposing 12th-century Basilica dei Santi Maria e Donato. The Basilica is said to be one of the oldest churches in the Venetian Lagoon and enshrines Virgin Mary. The Byzantine church has a remarkable colonnaded apse facing the Donato Canal. Though the exterior looks very simple the interior impresses with its remarkable mosaic work on floor and apse similar to Basilica di San Marco in Venice. The bell tower or the campanile stands beside the church.
We found the location around much quieter and calm than the other parts of the island which were buzzing with tourists and locals alike. We decided to have a coffee break in one of the canalside restaurant and spent some time people watching.
After the light lunch, we headed back to the Museo waterbus stop at the end of the museum street. We spotted this interesting street light yet another example of skilled work of Murano artisans. We had to get down at the next stop Murano Faro for the ferries to Burano run only from Murano Faro. Murano Faro was jam packed with tourists waiting for the waterbus. We decided to have lunch in a nearby pizzeria before heading to Burano. We carried home food for Chhavi which we got warmed in the restaurant oven. After a delicious and hearty pizza treat, we boarded the ferry to Burano.
Read about our trip to the most colorful town Burano.
Murano glass is produced in a myriad of designs recreating classic designs and adapting the newer and modern styles. One can find a varied of glass items from simple to ornate fitting everyone’s budget.
Check for more information on waterbuses to Murano from different points in Venice.
Have you been to Murano? What has been your favorite thing to do in Murano?
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