Venice, the capital of northern Italy’s Veneto region, is built on more than 100 small islands in a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea. It has no roads, just canals – including the Grand Canal thoroughfare – lined with Renaissance and Gothic palaces.
The central square, Piazza San Marco, contains St. Mark’s Basilica, which is tiled with Byzantine mosaics, and the Campanile bell tower offering views of the city’s red roofs.
Often referred to as “the most Romantic City on Earth”, Venice is also affectionately referred to as “the City of Bridges,” “the City of Water”, and “La Serenissima” (“the most Serene City on the face of this Earth”).
An idyllic picture-scape of Gondolas on the Grande Canal, with the imposing and timeless Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute looming majestically as the backdrop, is the timeless icon of VENICE!
The ‘PONTE DI RIALTO’ (Rialto Bridge) is truly the “Heart of VENICE” and is arguably, one of the five most photographed and celebrated attractions around the World – right up there with Le Tour d’ Eiffel (The Eiffel Tower), the Statue of Liberty, the Acropolis in Athens and the Pyramids of Egypt! The Rialto Bridge is one of the four bridges spanning the Grand Canal in Venice. It is the oldest bridge across the canal, and was the dividing line for the districts of San Marco and San Polo.
While in Venice, I have lost count of the number of times I have walked over to simply gaze upon and take in the splendor and the magnificence of this monumental structure, and visualize luminaries like Shakespere who walked across this bridge everyday on foot, to pen his opus, ‘The The Merchant of Venice’, in my mind’s eye – mesmerized, spell bound, enchanted, and totally in awe of its ethereal and mystical beauty that defy words, photos, and pictures!!!
In English-speaking countries, glass artisans are often performer-pitchmen at craft shows and festivals, where they blow glass baubles for a few dollars or pounds each. But there was a time when the trade of glassblowing–indeed, glassmaking in general–was an elite pursuit dominated by craftsmen in the Venetian Republic, most notably on the island of MURANO in the Venetian Lagoon.
Murano was a commercial port as far back as the 7th Century, and by the 10th Century it had grown into a prosperous trading center with its own coins, police force, and commercial aristocracy.
Then, in 1291, the Venetian Republic ordered glassmakers to move their foundries to Murano because the glassworks represented a fire danger in Venice, whose buildings were mostly wooden at the time. It wasn’t long until Murano’s glassmakers were the leading citizens on the island. Artisans were granted the right to wear swords and enjoyed immunity from prosecution by the notoriously high-handed Venetian state. By the late 14th Century, the daughters of glassmakers were allowed to marry into Venice’s blue-blooded families.
Such pampered treatment had one catch: Glassmakers weren’t allowed to leave the Republic. If a craftsman got a hankering to set up shop beyond the Lagoon, he risked being assassinated or having his hands cut off by the secret police–although, in practice, most defectors weren’t treated so harshly.
What made Murano’s glassmakers so special? For one thing, they were the only people in Europe who knew how to make glass mirrors. They also developed or refined technologies such as crystalline glass, enameled glass (smalto), glass with threads of gold (aventurine), multicolored glass (millefiori), milk glass (lattimo), and imitation gemstones made of glass. Their virtual monopoly on quality glass lasted for centuries, until glassmakers in Northern and Central Europe introduced new techniques and fashions around the same time that colonists were emigrating to the New World.
The island of Murano is celebrated today for its long tradition of glass-making. Ferry-loads of visitors come to explore the MUSEO DEL VETRO, which tells the story of glass through the centuries, and to shop for locally crafted souvenirs. Built in the Romanesque style, the Church of Santa Maria and San Donato has a colorful mosaic floor and supposedly houses the bones of a slain dragon.
Today Murano’s fame is reflected in the celebrity of its students like world famous glass sculptor DALE CHIHULY whose signature glass sculptures adorn palaces, famous buildings, and museums some of which bear his name, around the World. The best-selling SUV, the NISSAN MURANO also draws inspiration from this isle.
We will surely savor fond memories of this magical and enchanting Isle of MURANO, off VENICE that has contributed so much to the World thru its fine art and craft of Glass Sculpture!
No other city on this Planet evokes romance, emotion, ardor, passion, and poetry like Venice does, IMHO – I would go back there in a heartbeat!