Venetian glass ★★★

A glass shop on Murano, Venetian glass, Venice, Italy (Photo by Dennis Jarvis)
A glass shop on Murano

Shopping for Venetian glass and Murano chandeliers in Venice

, Venetian glass, Venice, Italy. (Photo by Till Westermayer)
Mixed Murrine Sphere; Glass sculpture by David Patchen. Blown glass; murrine, Venetian glass, Venice, Italy. (Photo by Davidpatchen)
A worker at a Murano glass factory demonstrates his technique, Venetian glass, Venice, Italy. (Photo by Saffron Blaze)
Glass bottle in a furnace for making glass during demonstration at a Murano glass factory, Venetian glass, Venice, Italy. (Photo by Wknight94)
Example of blown glass utilizing murrine technique. Created by David Patchen, Venetian glass, Venice, Italy. (Photo by Davidpatchen)

I've heard tell that there are more than 1,000 glass shops in the San Marco district alone.

That's a lot of glasswares.

It's also not surprising to anyone who has walked the streets of Venice, where every little hole-in-the-wall shop and big, touristy boutique seems to sport a display of delicate and colorful examples of the glassmaker's art.

Quality varies tremendously, and many of the items are actually machine-produced or crafted anywhere from Eastern Europe to Taiwan, but the best rule of thumb is simply to buy it if you like it and to blazes with its provenance.

For glass, you really should head out to Murano—to which the city fathers moved Venice's glass indsutry in 1291 as a precaution against fire—but most of the great glass-makers also have showrooms in downtown Venice:

Make your own Venetian glass souvenir

Want to try your own hand at making some Venetian glass? Maestro Massimiliano Caldarone offers 75-minute glass-making lessons at his Cannaregio bottega (workshop).

Photo gallery
  • A glass shop on Murano, Venetian glass, Italy (Photo by Dennis Jarvis)
  • , Venetian glass, Italy (Photo by Till Westermayer)
  • Mixed Murrine Sphere; Glass sculpture by David Patchen. Blown glass; murrine, Venetian glass, Italy (Photo by Davidpatchen)
  • A worker at a Murano glass factory demonstrates his technique, Venetian glass, Italy (Photo by Saffron Blaze)
  • Glass bottle in a furnace for making glass during demonstration at a Murano glass factory, Venetian glass, Italy (Photo by Wknight94)
  • Example of blown glass utilizing murrine technique. Created by David Patchen, Venetian glass, Italy (Photo by Davidpatchen)

Venetian Glass tours

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Tips

Go to the source: Murano

The best blown glass is actually out on the island of Murano, which is where "Venetian" glass originated. » more

Haggle

Don't be afraid to bargain, especially if you're buying more than one item.

Let them mail it home for you

They have loads of experience packing glass so it doesn't break.

Would you really carry the thing around in your bag from hotel to hotel, running with it to catch trains and slinging it into the trunk of your rental car, only then to entrust your delicate glass baubles to the airline baggage handlers? Nope.

Accept the shipping cost as part of the price of buying the glass.

Buy with your instincts

If your idea of the perfect blown-glass souvenir is a tiny glass gondola, or a touristy glass Carnival mask, or even a glass Homer Simpson (with or without pornographically enormous phallus), that is precisely what you should buy.

Be happy with your purchase.

When I was 11, I bought—from some nondescript Venetian glass shop—a tiny black cat and spent the next several years (and several moves) carefully keeping its impossibly delicate glass whiskers, thinner than a human hair, from snapping off.

Gift suggestion

Blown glass Christmas tree ornaments are both very Venetian and quite classy to give as presents.

 

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Venice: The Northern Lagoon

The island where Venetian glass was born