Murano Island Walking Tour, Venice

Murano Island Walking Tour (Self Guided), Venice

Murano is often called the Glass Island, since it is home to the most impressive and renowned Venetian glass factories. The master craftsmen here have preserved their centuries-old techniques, and the island is full of shops where you can admire and purchase their adorable glass items. Some factories, such as Gino Mazzuccato’s, at the start of this self-guided walk, even have special showrooms where you can see the full process of glass-making firsthand.

One of the first visible sights as you approach Murano is the lighthouse (or “faro”), which is nothing too extravagant, but a good spot for photos or for sitting by the water and enjoying the boats crossing by. Follow with a stop by the San Pietro church to get your ‘fix’ of classical art (including some lovely chandeliers made from Murano glass), then stop by Fratelli Toso’s – one of the major contributors to modern glass design.

While it would probably go unnoticed on the Grand Canal, the tiny Palazzo da Mula is one of the island’s few elegant patrician buildings in a beautiful 12th-century Venetian Gothic style. Even more charming, equally from the outside as from the inside, is the Duomo de Murano across the bridge, whose main draw lies in the floor mosaics.

On the last stretch, do acquaint yourself with the Glass Museum’s unique collection of historic pieces that will help you understand how gloriously exquisite and sophisticated Venetian glass can be. Small and never crowded, it packs all the different varieties of glass techniques and decorations in less than an hour, and allows taking pictures.

For a great half a day out on beautiful Glass Island, follow this self-guided walking tour!

Getting to Sight #1. The first tour stop (Gino Mazzuccato) can be reached by: Alilaguna Water Taxi: Blue (B), Water Bus: 3, 4.1, 4.2, 7.
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play Store to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Murano Island Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Murano Island Walking Tour
Guide Location: Italy » Venice (See other walking tours in Venice)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 Km or 1.4 Miles
Author: naomi
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Gino Mazzuccato
  • Murano Lighthouse
  • Chiesa di San Pietro Martire
  • Fratelli Toso
  • Palazzo da Mula
  • Duomo di Murano
  • Murano Glass Museum (Museo del Vetro)
Gino Mazzuccato

1) Gino Mazzuccato

Founded in 1958, Gino Mazzuccato is one of the largest glass factories in Murano. After many years of producing in a traditional way, the company is now working on a new collection of glass pieces, made in a contemporary style in order to meet the clients’ tastes.

For visitors and potential buyers, the factory has several demonstration rooms where they can see craftsmen effortlessly and artistically working the glass into the various shapes, designs and colors (the history and process is well described along the way, too).

The shop offers items to suit all budgets, with a great variety of glass products, ranging from chandeliers, mirrors, and sculptures to decoration items and drinking glasses. $1000+ items can be found in a higher-end room on the ground floor and even more high-end showrooms upstairs.

Operating Hours:
Daily: 9am-5:30pm
Murano Lighthouse

2) Murano Lighthouse

Murano Lighthouse is an active lighthouse in the southeast part of Murano Island. One of the first sights you will see when coming to Murano by boat, it serves as a beacon of light but is not climbable. A good spot for photos, however!

The first lighthouse, built in 1912, was a metal skeletal tower on piles, which was deactivated in 1934 when the current one became operational. The lighthouse consists of a two-stages cylindrical stone tower, 35 meters high, with double balcony and lantern. The tower is painted white and on the upper stage are painted two black horizontal bands facing the range line, on the east side, in order to have the lighthouse more visible during the day.
Chiesa di San Pietro Martire

3) Chiesa di San Pietro Martire

This church was edified in 1348 along with a Dominican convent and was originally dedicated to St. John the Baptist. In 1474 a fire razed it to the ground and in 1511 it was rebuilt to the current appearance. It was closed in 1806, a few years after the fall of the Republic of Venice, and reopened in 1813. It is currently one of the two main parish churches in the island of Murano.

Artworks in the church include a Baptism of Christ attributed to Tintoretto, in the right nave, which also houses two works by Giovanni Bellini: an "Assumption with Saints" (1510–1513) and the Barbarigo Altarpiece (1488). Palma il Giovane's "San Nicòlo, Santa Lucia, San Carlo Borromeo" also features on the right wall. The Ballarin Chapel in the right wing was built in 1506 after the death of the eponymous glassmaker from Murano.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-12pm / 3-6pm
Closed on Sunday mornings for Mass
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Fratelli Toso

4) Fratelli Toso

One of the oldest glass factories established in Murano, Fratelli Toso was founded in 1854 by six brothers who loved the art of glassmaking. With over 150 years of experience in the field, the Toso family improved their techniques and nowadays are one of the top award-winning manufacturers of Murano glass. Their production has a wide range, going from exclusive chandeliers to charming glass souvenirs.

By far, Fratelli Toso’s most relevant contribution to Murano’s glassmaking history is their beautiful murrine (or millefiori), an ancient technique that forms an assortment of colorful glass canes that have been fused together, thus producing shapes and patterns on the inside. Once the fused canes have cooled down, they are sliced into small pieces, resulting in tiny circular flat beads, known as “murrine”. The Toso family were so skilled in the production of murrine millefiori during the 19th century that they were called “murrinari”. Their collections of millefiori pieces are quite extensive.
Palazzo da Mula

5) Palazzo da Mula

On the Canal Grande of Murano, just a few steps away from Ponte Vivarini, Palazzo da Mula is a fine example of a Venetian Gothic palace. Dating back to the 12th or 13th century, but extensively remodeled, it maintains the splendid façade almost unaltered, with remains of Venetian-Byzantine decoration of considerable artistic interest, in which ornaments such as patera (resembling a dish) and tiles remain embedded.

It was built to be the summer home of the da Mula family (continuing the Venetian nobility's tradition of moving away from Venice during the summer) and continues to be an inspiration to several works of art, particularly oil paintings. There's just something about the building that catches the fascination of artists from far and wide.
Duomo di Murano

6) Duomo di Murano

Known for its twelfth-century Byzantine mosaic pavement, this church is said to contain the relics of Saint Donatus of Arezzo as well as large bones behind the altar said to be the bones of a dragon slain by the saint.

The church itself is one of the oldest in the Venetian lagoon, originally built in the 7th century and known to have been rebuilt in the 9th century and in 1040 AD (although it is possible that there have been subsequent renovations, due to water intrusion and other problems common to Venice).

It only takes a few minutes to admire from the inside and out but it is definitely worth a stop. There is a very impressive glass mosaic inside, along with mosaics on the floor which are the most impressive of their kind you're likely to see in Venice and perhaps more widely.
Murano Glass Museum (Museo del Vetro)

7) Murano Glass Museum (Museo del Vetro) (must see)

Museo del Vetro is a good place to learn the history of glasswork (including local Murano glass) and the see real examples, some as much as 500 years old! There are a total of 8 rooms with different themes, in which one could spend about an hour reading all the information and looking at the pieces.

Some of the ancient (Syrian) pieces have to be seen to be believed; also the very modern ones. There's also a way to buy a combined ticket to see a glassmaking demo by real masters of the craft.

The palace housing the museum was built in typical Flamboyant Gothic style. In 1659 it became the residence of Bishop Marco Giustinian who later bought the property and donated it to the Torcello diocese. In 1861 it became the town hall of Murano Municipality which used the first floor to house the glass artworks by local artists. Over the following decades, the growing collection of glass artworks gradually took over the entire building. The chandeliers hanging on the ceiling are among the museum's highlights.

Do stop by the gift shop – good value and a way to avoid the kitsch in the commercial shops.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-5pm (Nov-Mar); 10am-6pm (Apr-Oct)
Closed: January 1, December 25

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