The ultimate city guide to Murano, Italy
A sort of puzzle, where the tiles are separated by canals and mirrors of water and stitched up by bridges and suspended passages. A fascinating kingdom with a rich past, overflowing with fairy tales and legends, linked to imaginative or disturbing masks and famous above all for magic: the magic of glass, which has always been the hallmark of Murano.
Murano, a Venetian hamlet as well as an agglomeration of islets immersed in the Venetian Lagoon, is populated by about 4500 inhabitants and consists of many minor fragments: seven pieces, two of which are artificial, the Sacca Serenella and the Sacca San Mattia.
Every year countless visitors go to Venice, and eyes from all over the world rest on the very delicate objects that are produced in Murano: admire the colored streaks of the glass that let themselves be modeled by the breath of their creator, see them dance, vibrate and fixing oneself in precious objects is a real show that makes one think of a spell or a secret art.
The tradition of glass has rather ancient origins here: it was back in 1295 when it was established that the glassworks of Venice, already in operation before the year 1000, was moved to Murano, as too often the furnaces of the workshops were the cause of fires ruinous, very dangerous given the abundance of wooden architecture. Gathering all the glass factories on the island meant for the city to better control production, maintaining the primacy of a refined ability, envied by all parts of the world: just think that the artisans were forced to live here, and to leave Venice they needed to a special permit.
Yet some fled from Murano, exporting the exclusive glassmaking techniques elsewhere, and for the town, there were moments of crisis, as when in the fifteenth century the competing Bohemian crystals began to be produced. To determine the rebirth was the use of glass for the creation of splendid chandeliers, still, today among the most famous and appreciated artifacts of Murano, and being a master glassmaker became a status of great prestige: only they, among the non-nobles, could ask in a wife the daughters of the patricians, and to be registered as a craftsman it was necessary to have been born on the island or to have bought properties on the island.
But the wonders of glass are not the only ones to deserve a look: those who explore the island will also discover many valuable architectures, such as churches, which were numerous before the advent of Napoleon. Today, among the most beautiful, we can mention the Basilica of Santi Maria e Donato, founded in the 7th century, adorned inside by a magnificent mosaic floor, and the church of Santa Maria Degli Angeli from 1188, overlooking the homonymous canal in one of the extreme edges of the island. Guardian of the remains of the Doge Sebastiano Venier, hero of Lepanto, until 1907, the structure experienced a long period of abandonment and many of his works were moved to the church of San Pietro Martire.
Located in the Rio dei Vetrai, the church of San Pietro Martire was built in the mid-fourteenth century in the name of San Giovanni Battista, then it was destroyed by a fire and rebuilt in 1511. With three naves, bordered by marble colonnades, it contains valuable paintings by Giovanni Bellini such as the Assumption of the Virgin and Saints and the Doge Barbarigo presented to the Virgin and the Putto, but also splendid glass chandeliers and, in the Ballarin family chapel, the funeral monument dedicated to the Grand Chancellor of the Republic of Venice, Giovanni Battista Ballarin, who died in September 1666 in Macedonia, and the tomb of his son Domenico, who died in November 1698.
Also worth seeing is the Glass Museum set up in Palazzo Giustinian, in Fodamenta Marco Giustinian: the Gothic-style building, the original residence of the bishops of Torcello, has housed the valuable collection since 1861 that intends to tell the story and the development of this skill. artisan over the centuries. Cups, sculptures, vases and chandeliers, the largest of which with sixty arms, make a fine show of themselves in the exhibition space, included among the Venetian Civic Museums since 1923.
The Palazzo Da Mula is also interesting, with its façade featuring Gothic elements fused at times typical of the medieval Veneto-Byzantine era. Erected on the foundations of the Grand Canal of Murano, a short distance from Ponte Vivarini, the building stands near the abbey of San Cipriano and today houses the municipal seat: it often organizes conferences, exhibitions and themed meetings on various aspects of art, in particular on glass and glass art.
Finally, the Murano lighthouse is characteristic, a cylindrical structure of Istrian marble which, despite its rather internal location to the lagoon, is fundamental for the navigation of the area: its blade of light, made more effective by a sophisticated combination of mirrors, points to the heart of the Bocca di Porto del Lido, favoring the return of boats at night.
The characteristic boats of the Venetian Lagoon are also the protagonists of the most important annual events in Murano. In July the classic regata reserved for boats with a single oar is repeated every year, in the waters in front of the island and the innermost waters.
The climate that frames the whole is quite pleasant, often characterized by dense fog but, also, for this reason, full of charm and mystery. The coldest month is January, with average temperatures ranging from a minimum of -1 ° C to a maximum of 6 ° C, while in July and August, the hottest months, it ranges from 18 ° C to 28 ° C. Precipitation, fairly widespread throughout the year, reaches its peak in August and November, with an average of 85 mm of rain per month.
Getting to Murano is simple: from Piazzale Roma or Venice Santa Lucia station, you can count on the public company ACTV DM Vaporetto line, which takes visitors to the island in less than 20 minutes. From Venice airport, you can get to Murano in about half an hour with the Alilaguna public transport lines.