Venetian glass, or more specifically Murano glass, is world renowned for its color and clarity. You’ll find glass beads, plates and other products in all the souvenir and artisan shops in Venice, but if you really want to see magic at work then you should travel out to Murano to watch glass being made and see showrooms of the most incredible chandeliers, jewellery, vases, plates and ornaments.
The city’s glassmakers perfected their art during the 13th century when they operated within the main city of Venice. In 1291 the city rulers realized just how vulnerable to a major fire the place was with all these huge furnaces burning so they forced all the factories to move to the island of Murano. Centuries later they are still there, although now there are far fewer glass factories operating. Once upon a time, the secrets of Venetian glass-making were so closely guarded that glass-makers were actually banned from leaving the city. I’m sure the artisans of Venini, Seguso, Millevitri, Pauly and Barovier & Toso, however, are now free to travel. The company Barovier & Toso was founded in 1295!
You can take a tour out to Murano which will include a tour of a glass factory with a demonstration during which an artisan makes pieces like a rearing glass horse or a flower for a chandelier – it’s very impressive seeing the molten glass take form as he skillfully pulls it into shape, and also to see how fragile it is when a piece breaks off and he has to start again. Alternately you can catch the vaporetto out to the island and visit the glass showrooms independently, but if you want to see glass-making in action check the times of demonstrations in advance.