Our first stop was St.Mark’s square and the Doge’s palace but the square looked like it was covered in ants there were so many people! That didn’t suit us so we walked to the other side of the island from where we caught a river boat to the island of Isola S.Giorgio Maggiore where there is pretty much nothing but a really large church. From there we went to the island of Murano
Murano is famous for the glass they produce. There are large factories with their own furnaces, apprentices and masters as well as their own shops which sell their products. We walked in to one showroom and I’m not sure if the guy thought we were rich dressed down or something, but he took a special interest in us. He took us in to the private showroom where they keep their one of a kind or new items where he showed us pieces by one of their Masters (they have to work for 15 – 20 years before they become masters) Valentina, and explained the perks of purchasing from that selection: You get photographs of the signed item in production, a folder with the biography of the artist and a photo of the artist with the item. Also, you can get up to 55% off the price. also told us some of the history of Murano. Back when they started making the glass they did it on the island of Venice until one of the furnaces exploded destroying a large part of the island. The doge at the time decided to move the furnaces to Murano, which is where the name now comes from. Back then, masters and there apprentices were basically held prisoner on the island, unable to leave because the secrets of blowing the glass were too important to risk it being leaked!
The glass is amazing… They use minerals such as selenium, cobalt, gold and silver to melt in with the glass to colour it. They then melt the rods in to the glass for the different colours. It is pretty amazing. The glass is then melted again in to different things, vases (starting from about E300), bowls and plates (starting from about E300 each) and anything else you could imagine (including the E9800 fish I really wanted to buy!) The gold and silver in the glass have to be pure, otherwise the heat in the furnaces burn the impure gold or silver and make them come out black. It was really an interesting afternoon! We did walk out with a very expensive (but cheaper than the average as it was end of range) vase, which we’ll be treasuring for many years to come!
Leaving the factory shop we walked the wrong way and ended up called back from the ‘wrong way’ and were shown in to a furnaced area where we could watch three different groups of people blowing, heating, knocking and shaping glass. It was really amazing to watch, because it is impossible to imagine these big burly men making things so beautiful and so delicate.
We were very fortunate to find a Spar on the way back to the boat where we found the cheapest food, chocolates and wines on all of the Venetian waters! We bought a lovely bottle of Lemoncella, a local lemon flavoured liquer which we absolutely love for about E7 and a bottle of 12 year old Balsamic vinegar which cost us under E3!
At the boating station there was a market stall where the lady was selling a few of the things we really liked for less than they were in the shops, so we also bought a beautiful wine bottle stopper.
By the time we got back from Murano we were so tired that we stopped in at a cafe on the way back to the hotel for a dinner reminiscent of our first trip to Venice, a rather dismal calzone with tinned mushrooms and cold sandwich ham before going back to the hotel, and soon after, to bed.