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Murano Island Tour: The History of Glass Making in Venice

Hosted by a local expert, enjoy a live demonstration as you explore Venetian Glass workshops
From US$1,070 privately
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Tour Details
Duration
3 hours
Product Type
Tour
Venues
  • Murano Glass Museum
  • Island of Murano
Photos & Highlights
  • Discover the fascinating history of glass in Venice and gain a deeper understanding of the wider context of global trade, and how artisan crafts like Murano glass are forging a new path in our modern world.
  • You'll witness actual glassmaking up close in a sustainable and authentic environment, away from the tourist crowds. Don't miss out on this incredible opportunity to be part of the legacy of Venetian glassmaking!
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Tour Description
Venetians have been making glass since the Middle Ages, and the importance of glass objects, glass trading, and glass craftsmanship is so deeply interwoven with Venetian history and identity that it’s impossible to visit Venice without considering it. During this half-day walking tour, we’ll visit the Venetian island of Murano, home to the city’s glass factories and artisans in the company of an historian. We’ll see glassmakers at work in local factories, learn how the craft has evolved, and discover what makes Murano glass so unique. 

Murano Glass Tour

Venetians didn’t invent glass. The first traces of glass manufacturing can be traced back to Egypt and Mesopotamia, millennia before the common era. However, glass became one of the symbols of the republic and, in particular, of a tiny island in the northern lagoon, Murano. This craft was so important to Venice - both to its economy and status - that Venice established a system of patents to protect the inventions that were being forged by the skillful artisans. With time, glass masters were considered part of the local nobility and were granted special privileges. During this two and a half hour Murano glass tour, we’ll explore how the glass industry became such a crucial sector of the Venetian trade throughout the centuries and not solely within the Mediterranean sea. 


We’ll begin with a trip across the Venetian lagoon by private boat to the island of Murano where the city’s glass factories have been located since 1291 when The Doge forced all glass factories to relocate out of Venice proper in order to minimize fire hazards. Along the way our expert will provide a vivid background on glass and how glass making first came to Venice. (To learn more about the role of the Doge in Venice try our Doge's Palace Tour: Politics and Justice in Venice.) 


Once we arrive in Murano we’ll head straight to the Murano Glass Museum, which contains a fantastic collection of historic glass objects and allows us to trace the development of glass in Venice over the centuries. We’ll consider, for example, how the relocation of glass creation to Murano fueled a production boom and rapid innovation like the creation of transparent glass, unknown until that moment, to such extravagant concoctions as the white milk-like “lattimo” glass. As we make our way through the museum our expert guide will also get into some of the details of the art, craft, chemistry, and trade that shape the story of glass, Murano, and Venice more broadly.

Glass Production and Trade

We’ll then take a stroll through Murano, whose landscape is characterized by a variety of glass factories, workshops and boutiques. When possible, we will enjoy a demonstration provided by a local glass maker. Our guide will enrich the presentation with more notes on the history of glass.  For instance, our guide may explain how "perle" or small glass beads which come in different varieties, colors, and shapes were widely used across the Mediterranean as token money. As the glassmakers work away we’ll talk about how glass production spread worldwide, and how Murano glass entered a period of crisis in the nineteenth century. If you’re interested in exploring Venice’s role in global trade we suggest our Introduction to Venice Tour: St. Mark's to Rialto tour.

Take Aways

At the end of our time together we’ll be transported back to mainland Venice by private boat transfer with a better idea of what makes Murano glass unique. We’ll understand the history of glass in Venice and will have witnessed actual glass making up close and in a non-touristy, sustainable environment. And we’ll consider the wider context of global trade and how artisan crafts like this are carving a new path for themselves in our modern world.

Please note that certain glass-making workshops and factories have reduced hours on weekends and off-season, therefore our visits will vary pending local opening times.


To learn more about glassmaking in Murano, take a look at our blog post about fake Murano glass and our profile of Giorgio Nason, a Venetian glassblower.

FAQ


Our hotel is offering us a private water taxi transfer to Murano for our tour.  Can we get to Murano that way?
No, unfortunately, the "free" water taxi service offered by many hotels obligates hotel guests to visit only certain parts of the island and certain glassmaking factories.  We prefer to have a choice of artisans to visit so discourage the use of the hotel water taxi service.  
Where You'll Start
54 Reviews (4.85)

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Fabulous tour to Murano Island. Kids learned about glass making. Nadia is extremely knowledgeable, museum was very good. And we found some unique shops to browse.
Nadia was the best
Getting to and from murano was easy and comfortable. Our guide Matteo was very friendly and helpful. As well as very informative.