Here’s a recap of previous posts and a list of what’s upcoming for our recent trip to Italy.
- United Airlines To Rome
- St. Regis Rome
- Osteria 44
- Photo Essay of Angels & Demons
- A Quiet Meal At Cul de Sac
- Trevi Fountain (Semi) Closed For Business
- A Fast Train To Venice
- Tips For Sightseeing In Rome
- St. Regis San Clemente Island, Part 1
- St. Regis San Clemente Island, Part 2
- Hotel Danieli
- Antico Pignolo
- A Quick Trip To Murano
- A Day At The Beach
- How To Ride The Vaporetto (Water Bus) In Venice
- Getting Lost In Venice
- Getting To Venice Airport
- British Airways 787 Flight Home
Like many others, I had heard plenty about Murano glass and seen it featured by many merchants around Venice and other places in the world.
For those not familiar, Murano is a small collection of islands north of Venice proper. All of the glass makers were forced to move to the island because of a risk of fires in 1291, and that’s what the area has been known for ever since.
Even though our hotel was right by the San Zaccaria vaporetto stop, we wanted to explore some more of Venice. We set off for a walk through the city to the Northern part of the island where we could jump on a boat there for a quick jaunt across to Murano. We had a ton of fun walking through the city, exploring different twists and turns until we popped out on the water again, all in all about a 20 minute walk. As an aside, I really love getting lost in Venice, just wandering the streets.
There were a few restaurants along the water and although they were a bit touristy the food being served to the patrons at the outside tables looked appetizing enough.
We grabbed a table and ordered some pizza and pasta for the kids to enjoy. I also took the time to try something new, Chinotto. We had seen it all over the country in various places and were curious. It looked like Coke, and while I don’t drink a ton of soda, I was curious what a popular beverage in Italy tastes like. Derived from the myrtle-leaved orange tree, the description of it was a cola-like drink that was characterized by most reviews of foreigners (US-based folks) as love/hate. We bought a bottle with lunch and all gave it a try. With no objection, we all fell solidly in the “hate it” category.
A quick lunch over, we hopped on the vaporetto for a couple quick stops and got off at Murano. The entire island is supposed to be covered with glass production factories and that’s what we were hoping to catch a peek at, glass making in action. We had specifically been referred by the Hotel Danieli to CAM, which turned out to be a prominently located furnace on Murano. They said the hotel had a special relationship with them and sent all their guests there for tours. Translation, this would be one very expensive glass factory.
CAM was one of very first buildings as we exited the vaporetto and took a right-hand turn towards where all the other shops were. We passed their showroom and found a couple of other doors with their names on them. They were locked so we wandered down a bit further figuring we’d find another glass factory to peak in on. There seemed to be one across the water but everything we passed on our side were retail locations. And, while there were some beautiful pieces in the various stores, we still wanted to see a factory.
We wandered back to CAM and went inside the showroom. We asked one of the gentlemen about seeing glass being made and noted that the Hotel Danieli had sent us. One of them immediately jumped up and offered a tour, noting that glass production might already be done for the day. He spoke English quite well, a blessing because my Italian is quite rudimentary. He led us down a hallway and through some doors to a small courtyard. Off the courtyard was another door that lead into the production facility. There was seating for 20 or 30 people but we were the only spectators. The workers were cleaning up but after a quiet conversation with our guide, one of them agreed to do a quick demonstration. Considering that he was sweating profusely from what was likely a long, hot day in front of the kiln, we were very appreciative.
He took less than 10 minutes total to whip together a beautiful bird right in front of our kids, most of the work occurring just a few feet from my kids’ awe-inspired looks. If you’re interested in seeing a 2-minute video of him performing some of the work, click here.
The gentleman who had walked us back to the production area had hung around waiting for the demonstration to finish then walked us into a surprising museum. There was no advertisement of this to the public that we saw outside, and yet he walked us through 2 floors and about a dozen rooms of pieces of glass work they had displayed in private rooms.
The pieces were exquisite, and he took plenty of time to explain the history behind any of the pieces we were interested in, as well as talk about the time to construct them. We saw a few pieces that fit our tastes and were within our budget, though still pricey. Even though there was a touch of “buyer’s guilt” given that they had opened up the facility for a demo and tour after it was already closed for the day, we ultimately didn’t buy anything. But, if you had the budget and desire, it would be hard to go wrong with the quality of goods at CAM. They don’t have many smaller pieces, such as jewelry, which was more what we were seeking.
It was a stark difference walking down the path to other stores where the sales pitches were much more aggressive. We found a quieter store a few hundred yards removed from the main tourist area where we were allowed to browse without pressure until we found a few charms to bring home as gifts for family (and, of course, a small piece for the girls as well).
All in all, we spent only a few hours on Murano. Like the rest of Venice, I’d enjoy getting lost exploring the rest of the islands. But, I don’t think it’s the type of activity you need to dedicate a full day to unless glass making carries a strong interest for you or you’re shopping for something specific.
Murano is easily accessible from dozens of places in Venice via the vaporetto, so consider avoiding the high pressure tour and exploring the area on your own.
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