The small island of Murano, off Venice, has been producing glass for over 600 years. The glass-blowing tradition was moved from Venice to Murano in the 13th century because most of the buildings in Venice were made of wood, and rulers were worried that having glass blowers around would cause the buildings to catch fire.
Murano has become famous for, among other designs, the colourful millefiori design, seen in the photo.
If a vase or glass sculpture isn't a significant enough souvenir, the island also makes spectacular glass chandeliers, and will ship anywhere in the world (if you're serious, set up an appointment).
Or if you just want a token souvenir or a good small gift, purchase some glass candies or a fountain pen, or a decorated wine stopper. Note: you can easily find all these items in Venice too.
Glass-blowing demo: Keep your eye out for "Entrata Libera" signs to the factories, if you'd like to watch a short glass-blowing demo, which will most likely produce a transparent glass "Ferrari" horse.
Watch a video of the horse-making here, and if you'd like to see it in person, have a look at these "tips for visiting" the glass blowers.
Aside from shopping and watching the glass-blowers, spend some time in Murano's churches, and enjoy the views of Venice and the lagoon from the island.
Go in the morning, because like everything else in Italy, glass-blowers close their shops and businesses during the lunch time pausa, starting about 1 pm, and re-open around 4.30 pm.
It's easy to get to Murano from Venice and takes under an hour. Check here for details in English on how to get to Murano using public transportation.
I'd dedicate at least half a day to visit Murano, unless you are making a significant purchase, in which case, allow a full day.
Photo by Sanjay
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