A Glass Menagerie – The Magic of Murano

The Veneto region of Italy is best known for Venice, the city of romance, history, and mystery. Most are familiar with Venice’s stunning cathedrals, palaces, piazzas, and the famous canals spotted with black-and-gold gondolas and brightly clad gondoliers. However, Venice’s sister island, Murano, is as charming and perhaps, more fascinating in some ways.

Only minutes by water taxi from Venice, Murano consists of seven small islands linked by bridges. This historic city also offers visitors gorgeous cathedrals, palaces, piazzas, and canals. However, Murano has something to offer that Venice does not. Murano is renowned as the island of glass, that is, beautiful art fashioned of glass.

Then why do we hear ‘Venetian’ glass? By the 8th or 9th centuries, glass making as an art had reached its height in the Middle East, particularly in Syria, Egypt, and Palestine. Venice, being on the sea, was fertile ground for the specialized skills of the trade. One of the first glass furnaces on a Venetian island was discovered on the island of Torcello. This furnace dates to the 8th century, establishing the origins of Venetian glassmaking around that period.

Until 1291, glassblowers practiced their art in Venice, but fears that fire generated by the heat of the kilns would burn down the city caused the glassblowers to be relocated to Murano. One must wonder if Venice’s city fathers ever regret such a decision now that Murano is world famous for its art. At one time, the artisans of Murano alone knew how to produce the glass mirrors in such high demand among Europeans.

The history of the city is fascinating, but of more interest are the people and processes that make magic from silica, soda, and lime. Centuries-old techniques handed down father to son are used to craft offerings ranging from contemporary art glass, glass figurines and wine stoppers to the magnificent Murano glass chandeliers. Visitors to the island may even watch glassblowers at work creating their historical and cherished works of art.

Since 1397, the Seguso family has been making glass on Murano. At a young age, Gianni Seguso learned from his father and by age 16 was a Master. Today, he and his son Marco (the 23rd generation) run his workshop. It is astounding that as a teenager Gianni Seguso could make sculptures based on famous artists’ sketches, and even more amazing that he could fashion the exquisite glass chandeliers for which Murano is known. The Seguso family is one of so many families handing down this craftsmanship and knowledge generation after generation. Other authentic, quality shops are Fornace Mian, established 1962, and Fornace Ferro Murano, in Murano for 700 years.


No visit to Murano would be complete without seeing the Museo del Vetro, a glass museum housed in a 16th-century palace with a beautiful 18th-century ceiling fresco in the first-floor central room. The museum offers an extensive historical insight into the art of Murano glass. On the Museo del Vetro’s website, we find the tempting ‘Murano Today: Emotions of Glass’ and ‘from mosaic glass to “millefiori.”

Murano is known for centuries-old beautiful glass artwork. Our Murano Glance Collection embraces the art of Murano glassmaking in its historical and current incarnations. Experience Murano, the island of glass, in the Murano Glance Collection…only at Sybaris.