Renowned for its long tradition of glassmaking, Murano is a series of seven islands linked by bridges in the Venetian Lagoon. Jump aboard a vaporetto and make the short ride across the lagoon to visit Murano’s Museo del Vetro and shop for locally crafted glasswork.
The Museo del Vetro is located within the 17th-century Palazzo Giustinian and features a magnificent collection of Venetian glass dating back to Roman times. It offers a fascinating insight into the story of glassmaking throughout the centuries and makes a good first port of call.
Glass workers were first sent to Murano in the 13th century, reportedly to reduce the risk of fires from glass furnaces that might devastate the tightly packed streets of Venice. But others believe they were confined here to keep Venetian glassblowing techniques secret from the outside world. Today the canals of Murano are lined by glassblowing workshops and studios where you can purchase beautifully-crafted souvenirs.
Don’t miss a visit to the magnificent Santi Maria e Donato Church, which fuses Veneto-Byzantine and early Romanesque elements that date from the 7th to the 12th centuries. It features a colorful mosaic floor depicting animal figures that was designed in the 12th century and one of the earliest examples of Venetian painting in the St. Donato image above its altar. There are also magnificent Greek marble columns with Veneto-Byzantine capitals and it is believed to house the bones of a slain dragon!
Be sure to visit the neighboring island of Burano that has a long tradition of lace making, with a Scuola dei Merletti (lace school) and small museum to explore amidst its colorful houses.