Murano is famous for its glassware. So, it did not surprise me that its main drag was lined with glass shops, the docks consisted of glass warehouses, or that there is a glass museum and a glassblowing school on this island. What did surprise me was that I enjoyed the glass!
We stopped at Murano to get a quick lunch before proceeding on to Torcello. For this reason, we got off at the second stop. Because of this, we did not meet any 'glass touts' offering free factory tours. Instead, we wandered through this quiet island village, through the courtyard of its church, to a little restaurant near the campanile. Afterwards, we decided to stroll through town.
Many of the glass shops sold the same sorts of things, little glass animals, pens, jewelry. Others sold large artworks, beautiful structures of light and color encapsulated in glass. We stopped briefly in one of the ubiquitous shops to purchase inexpensive souvenirs for our families.
Down the canal, we decided we had time for one more store before boarding the vaporetto. We stopped into a upscale establishment and browsed. In their second showroom, we found enchanting liqueur sets. Soon, a sales clerk came in to talk to us about the glassware. We had no plans to purchase anything. But the more I heard about this traditional art form, the painstaking hand-made details, and the more I looked at these pieces of glass, I definitely wanted to take it home with us. It is not like me to make an extravagant purchase, but I realized that unlike many souvenirs, we would be able to use this set to entertain our friends for years to come, and always remember our trip to Italy.
He told us that he had the best prices for us, and while I didn’t believe it for a second, I did think the price was fair considering the workmanship. We purchased a green liqueur set, painted over in gold with tiny hand-molded flowers. Green, he informed us, was the traditional color. Red and purple, though beautiful, cost 10% more. These pieces represented one of the original designs of Venetian glassware, and these pieces came from one of the old artisan families that had lived on Murano for centuries. The shop offered to ship it to us for 30 Euro, including insurance, and it arrived shortly after we returned. Now we use it all the time!
Back on Venice, we started seeing very similar sets in the shops around San Marco. Curious, we entered one shop and inquired about it. The price was twice as much. We did get the best price! In summary, Murano’s famous glassware is cheaper at the source. Talking to some friends who had also visited Murano, we also determined that we had been quoted better prices than those who had gone on those "free" factory tours.
Cenedese & Gasparini Glass
Fondamente Daniele Manin, 1/A