Of the 118 islands that make up the Venice Lagoon, Murano is one of the best known. Famous worldwide for its prolific craft industry with spectacular glass creations, there are many things to do in Murano.
Before you start, on your trip around the island it will be useful to have a map of Murano with the most important points that we will see below. I hope the list of ideas shared below will inspire you and you will have an amazing trip.
1. Visit the Murano Cathedral
If you go from Venice on your excursion to Murano you should take the time to visit the official cathedral of the small island better known as the Basilica of Saints Maria and Donato.
Its construction dates back to the seventh century and over the years has undergone several reforms, the most important in the ninth century and in the twelfth century. Of the original design the floors and mosaics composed of marble and glass are preserved.
In its interior decoration highlights the ceiling and its magnificent representation of Byzantine art with a decoration of the Virgin Mary praying on a golden background. Pay special attention to the relics of San Donato and the four giant ribs hanging behind the altar.
2. Visit the Murano Glass Museum
If you want to learn about the art that has made this town famous, a stop to see the Glass Museum is a must. Located near the Palazzo dei Vescovi, its facade exhibits the flowery Gothic style, characteristic of Venice and was built in 1861.
Inside you can find a total of 9 exhibition halls, with a permanent collection of works that shows the talent of the artisans of Murano at its best, additionally you can learn about the history of the island and its relationship with Venice.
According to records, in 1291 the Venetian glass workshops were moved to Murano for safety reasons, as Venice was the victim of numerous fires. For this reason, the entire Venetian glass industry settled in Murano where the new workshops were built.
3. Meet the traditional glass factories in Murano
It is important to know that Murano glass making is not an art relegated to the history books, on the contrary it is a permanent and evolving art that many Venetians live by. Due to the popularity they carry, Murano artists have opened their workshops, so you will have the opportunity to see a live demonstration of glass blowing.
On your visit to Murano I recommend walking the streets to meet some traditional artisan workshops, here are some of the best known.
- Bruno Fusato Signoretti: his work and dedication made him one of the most respected artisans in Murano and throughout Venice. Although he passed away in 2014, his workshop and store remain open to the public, currently managed by his daughters.
- Massimiliano Schiavon Art Team: his creations have made him famous all over the world for the wonderful way he plays with color and creates strange, unique and perfect pieces. In Murano there are two showrooms dedicated to Massimiliano Shiavon's art.
4. Participate in a glass workshop in a studio in Murano.
If admiring the works of the artists and watching them being made live is not enough for you, how about creating the pieces yourself? Among the unique experiences offered by a trip to the lagoon of Venice is the invaluable opportunity to learn the secrets of its techniques.
Experienced artists offer didactic workshops on Murano glass in which you can learn how to make glass beads, small objects in the shape of animals or learn the basics around the technique of blowing.
Murano glass workshops are usually basic courses focused on beginners, do not be afraid if you know absolutely nothing about the subject. The idea behind the experience is usually to have fun learning something new.
5. Get to know the Grand Canal of Murano and the secondary canals
Murano is made up of numerous islands connected to each other by bridges and canals. Like the imposing Venice, it has its own Grand Canal although in smaller proportions.
On your tour you will find several landing ports and the Ponte Longo, the only bridge on the Grand Canal of Murano and connecting the islands of Donato and San Pietro. It is also a good spot to take fabulous photos of the water and the surrounding buildings.
6. Explore the alleys of Murano on foot
Made up of a total of 7 individual islands linked together by beautiful bridges, the entire island of Murano measures only one mile and is easily walkable in 30 minutes or less. It is worth taking a moment to wander its alleys, walk its beautiful bridges, admire the old houses and enjoy the daily life of a much more relaxed and less crowded village than the great Venice.
7. Stop for lunch
On your walk through Murano take a moment to enjoy the local cuisine, after all walking among museums, factories and workshops can be exhausting. Here are some of my favorite options, but feel free to explore the many alternatives that the place has to offer.
- Restaurant alla Vecchia Pescheria: seafood is the specialty of the house, but you will find a varied gastronomic offer, whether you are looking for a full meal or if you prefer to have a light lunch before continuing your trip.
- Osteria al Duomo: this informal tavern opened its doors to the public in 1903 as a collective property belonging to 50 families of Murano, and today the tradition is maintained. It is the ideal place to eat if you visit Murano with your family as a result of the warm aura and friendly atmosphere that permeates the place. Besides, the pizza is excellent!
- Ai Bisatei: is where glassblowers go to eat fried fish, risotto or a good pasta dish like clams. It is a simple place to enjoy a good meal in an extremely pleasant atmosphere.
8. See the other churches
In your tour of Murano you will come across other beautiful churches that are worth visiting. Pay special attention to the following:
- Santa Maria degli Angeli: located on the island of San Donato, this church and convent began to be built in 1118. In Renaissance style, this church enjoyed great fame when a papal bull joined it to the church of Santa Maria di Piave on the Lovadina. Sadly the church was closed in 1848 and many of the wonderful works contained inside were removed. Today it can only be admired from the outside.
- San Pietro: located near the San Pietro Martire bridge, it is one of the oldest buildings in Murano. It was built along the lines of Gothic architecture and dates back to the fourteenth century.
9. Be sure to visit the Palazzo Da Mula.
You cannot leave the island of Murano without visiting one of the most famous buildings on the island. Formed by a beautiful brick structure characteristic of the island's constructions, the Palazzo Da Mula stands out for its rich decoration where Istrian stone is used in a wonderful way.
Its façade exhibits the characteristics of the Venetian Gothic style, being decorated with tiles and paterae dating back to times before the 15th century.
When admiring it, pay special attention to all the architectural details that characterize it, such as the arches in the loggias with their peculiar circular holes, the contours on the windows and the jambs on the doors.
10. Visit Campo Santo Donato
Leaving the Murano Cathedral you will find a small and pleasant enclosed square. This square is called Campo San Donato and the most beautiful element of the place is the fantastic stone well located in the center of the square and listed as one of the oldest wells on the island.
On its sides it exhibits an exquisite decoration characterized by a semicircular arch supported by columns and candles in each corner.
11.Visit the Roman Column and the Column of the Call.
In Murano you will find some peculiar colonnades that serve as historical attractions on a tour of the island.
- Roman Column: it is the first attraction you will come across when you get off at the port of Murano. It is an ancient column made of Roman granite that has been leaning over time. For centuries it played an important role as the pedestal of the statue of Doge Domenico Contarini.
- Column of the call: located next to the Ponte di Mezzo, its name is due to the fact that, in this place, the messenger of Venice used to dock to read the ordinances issued by the Doge or the Venetian magistrates. You will easily recognize it since the Lion of San Marco is placed at the top.
12. Visit the Murano Lighthouse
On the island of Santo Stefano, on the east coast of Murano and close to the harbor is the Murano Lighthouse. If your intention is to continue your adventure to the islands north of Venice, in this port you will take the Vaporetto to take you to Burano.
The construction you will see is, to a large extent, a consequence of renovations made at the beginning of the last century; however historically the Murano lighthouse has been placed in this same location. The first construction was made entirely of wood and then in 1912 it was replaced by an iron structure.