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Murano Island—Things to Do in Venice

 

Murano Island is one of the three islands located in the Venetian Lagoon and one mile north of Venice. The island is primarily known for its glass making industry. When looking for things to do in Venice, this wonderful island must be explored!

The Grand Canal divides the Murano Island which actually comprises a series of islands connected by bridges. From Venice, tourists can take a water taxi (a/k/a vaporetto) to Murano Island. Another option is to search for glass factory delegates at St. Mark’s who will sometimes take travelers there for free without expectations of purchases. Hotels sometimes offer guided tours as well.

Tickets are inexpensive and the vaporetti leave Venice every 10 minutes, but it is best to go during non- rush hours as the taxi boats can get crowded very quickly. Also important to note: tourists should be certain to check the leave times so as not be left on the island.

Some centuries ago, glass makers were mandated to reside on Murano Island for fear of giving away their secret glass-making abilities. A walk around the island will reveal the small homes where glass makers used to live. The glass was initially made in Venice, but in 1293—due to fires and also the confidential glass-blowing techniques—the Doges of Venice required all glass-making furnaces be moved to Murano Island.

Aside from the various glass-blowing demonstrations around Murano Island’s glass factories, a must- see is the Murano Glass Museum (Museo Vetrario) which was established in 1861. In the early 1800s, Murano Island Mayor Antonio Colleoni and glass collector enthusiast Abbot Vincenzo Zanetti worked to obtain maps and other pertinent archives for the museum. A year after the museum opened, glass- making classes began and were eagerly attended by glass works artists on their days off.

In addition to the several exquisite glass art, Renaissance artwork is displayed in the museum as are archeological finds dating back to the First Century A.D. The glass museum is located within the breath- taking Palazzo Giustinian, which is a paradigm for the late Venetian Gothic style architecture.

Tours of the many glass-making factories on Murano Island vary in length but they are usually proportionate to short stays on the island. Some factories offer guests comfortable seating arrangements whilst they observe the presentations in the glass-making showrooms. Of course there is always the option to purchase glass works and tourists should feel free to barter below the listed price. Custom-made pieces may also be ordered, but the prices are fixed and a 50 percent deposit must be placed.

After touring the glass factories and the Murano Glass Museum, another must-see is the Basilica of Santa Maria and San Donato which is located near the Murano Glass Museum. This church is the oldest of any among the Venice lagoon islands of Murano, Borano and Torcello, having been erected in the 7 th Century. The bell tower stands separately from the church.

Hanging from wires behind the altar at Santa Maria and San Donato are four rib bones which are 1 metre in length. Folklore has it that these bones originate from a dragon slain by St. Donatus of Greece. Some believe that the bones are actually from Pleistocene mammals—large, extinct birds and reptiles.

A second church worth exploring on Murano Island is the Chiesa di San Pietro Martire which dates back to the 14th Century. It is handily located just 200 metres from the vaporetti dock. Here tourists can feast their eyes upon paintings from Bellini, Tintoretto and Veronese.

For hotel accommodations, the tariffs aren’t as pricey as nearby Venice hotels, and most are family- owned and operated. The best-known hotel on Murano Island is the Murano Palace. The comfortable and tidy rooms come with a view including balconies. Some consider this a refreshing and peaceful option rather than the hustle and bustle surrounding hotels in Venice.

While the restaurants on Murano Island are scarce, locals know best. Follow their leads and consider dining at the Trattoria Busa alla Torre. Here the food is not very expensive, served nice and hot, includes modest entrees, and the menu comes with a decent selection of wines.

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