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Murano, the Glass Island
ABOVE: Bags of glass beads at a shop on Murano.
Buying Murano glass
is why most people come to Murano, and there's no shortage of retail outlets
(including factory showrooms) on the island.
If you're a casual buyer, you won't need a shopping guide: Just
look in display windows, browse in shops that look interesting, and buy whatever
strikes your fancy.
If you're serious about Venetian and Murano glass, we'd strongly
recommend buying one or more of the books reviewed elsewhere in this article.
Some are out of print, but you may be able to find used copies at secondhand
booksellers such as Libreria Acqua alta in Venice.
favorite guidebook, Michela and Nicoló Scibilia's Comprehensive Guide to
the Island of Murano, has an entire chapter devoted to glass factories,
ateliers, and showrooms that specialize in products ranging from traditional
chandeliers and mirrors to modern art glass, and from various styles of
beads to stained glass, murrines, and mosaics.
Gianfranco Tosa's Murano: A History of Glass, provides a
detailed overview of and Venetian and Muranese glassmaking techniques from
the 10th through the 20th Centuries.
Carl I. Gable's Murano Magic is another useful resource for
Not all "Murano glass" is from Murano. Some dealers--especially souvenir
shops--try to pass off cheap Chinese counterfeits as the real thing. Look
for the "Vetro Murano Artistico"
trademark decal in the windows of shops and showrooms that sell authentic
Murano glass, unless you're just looking for a cheap souvenir and don't care
about its provenance.
If you run out of time while shopping on Murano, don't panic: Venice has
innumerable shops and galleries that sell authentic Murano glass, jewelry
made from Murano beads, etc.
Caveat emptor: Glass shops in Murano and Venice can ship
products to your home, but if the glassware arrives broken, filing a claim
or getting a replacement can be a nuisance. (Consider yourself forewarned.)
Other types of shops
Unless you're shopping for glass, there isn't much reason to
shop on Murano, with these few exceptions:
A handful of tourist shops and newsstands sell guidebooks, postcards,
camera supplies, and souvenirs.
The InCoop supermarket and shopping center on the Fondamenta dei Vertrai,
just north of the Colonna waterbus stop, is a convenient place to buy
groceries, drinks, and other necessities.
Two pharmacies can supply remedies for headaches, blisters, etc.
On certain days of the week, you'll see produce barges scattered along
Murano's canals. If you have a craving for fresh lettuce or artichokes, head
for the nearest floating vegetable stand.
Many shops and showrooms close for lunch at 12:30 or 1 p.m. and
don't reopen until anywhere from 2 to 3:45 p.m. Weekend hours vary:
Tourist-oriented shops are likely to be open on Saturdays and Sundays, while
showrooms and galleries that cater primarily to the trade may be open only from
Monday to Friday.
Banks and money
Murano has several bank branches and cash machines where you can
obtain euros with your ATM card.
Use only "Bancomats" of legitimate banks (avoid
for-profit Euronet ATMs, for example) and don't accept the "conversion"
option if it's offered.
About the author:
Durant Imboden has
written about Venice, Italy since 1996.
He covered Venice and European travel at About.com for 4-1/2 years before launching
Europe for Visitors (including
Venice for Visitors) with Cheryl
Imboden in 2001.
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