Isola di Murano is a colourful island located in the Venetian Lagoon which has become famous for its glassmaking. The Venetian glassmaking industry dates all the way back to the Roman Empire and was expanded throughout the Byzantine Empire through trading with the Orient.
Venice became a prominent glass manufacturing hub all the way back in the eighth century, and by the 12th century, it was the city’s major industry. A glassmakers’ guild was established in the city, detailing rules and regulations for the industry. In order to safeguard the glassmakers’ secrets and profits, a law was passed banning the importing of foreign glassworks to Venice and the employment of foreign glassmakers.
A further law was passed establishing Murano as the city’s premier glassmaking centre, and all glassblowing furnaces were moved to the island. While lawmakers insisted this was to avoid fires in the overpopulated city (which was constructed mainly of wood), many speculated that the real reason was to keep trade secrets protected. Radically, a short time later, glassmakers were banned from leaving Venice, but were rewarded with wealth and status to encourage them to stay in the profession.
Popularity for Venetian glassmaking peaked around the 15th and 16th centuries, beginning to decline throughout the 17th century as new hotspots popped up all over Europe. But the glassmakers of Murano continued to innovate new techniques and styles. The industry shrank further under the city’s rule of Napoleon, but the 20th Century saw the rediscovery of Murano glass, and the island has once again become known as the glassmaking capital of the world.
Those travelling to Murano will have the chance to visit the island’s glass blowing factory
, as well as a number of stunning churches, such as the Basilica di Santa Maria e San Donato and Santa Maria degli Angeli.