People often ask us how to visit a Murano Glass factory. If you would like to see how Murano Glass is made, the best option is to take a vaporetto to Murano and just take a walk around the island (which is very pretty, less touristy and much quieter than Venice). There you will quickly find furnaces and workshops that are open to tourists and offer demonstrations. If you decide to visit a Murano Glass factory here are the tips that will make your visit better:
- August is a bad time to visit Murano. All Murano glass factories are closed for the entire month of August by Murano tradition, primarily due to unbearable heat inside the non-air-conditioned factories aggravated by high outside temperatures. If you must visit during August you may end up in a very touristy place that is a “fake factory” i.e. set up specifically to offer quick demos to unsuspecting tourists and mainly to get them into a showroom and entice them to shop. For this reason, if you visit Venice in August, we suggest to forgo a factory visit.
- It is best to visit furnaces on weekday mornings. Most of them are closed during the lunch hour (which tends to be longer than in the U.S. and often runs until 2-3pm) and on weekends.
- These tours and demonstrations should always be free of charge. Do not agree to deal with anyone who offers to get you into the factory for a fee.
- In Venice, you may encounter sales representatives from touristy factory showrooms that will offer you a free boat trip to Murano. If you accept, be prepared for a lot of sales pressure when you get there and make sure you know how to get back. In fact, it is always better to come to Murano by relatively inexpensive and efficient public transportation, and not have to depend on pushy salespeople.
- The exit from a demo is almost always through a richly stocked showroom where you may encounter variable amounts of sales pressure. Look at the prices first, and if things seem too expensive – don’t buy. The factories often give you an impression that they sell cheaper “direct from factory”, or that no-one else has the pieces they have, but this often not true. Make sure to comparison shop around the island before making a purchase – you could save hundreds of dollars this way.
- If you do decide to buy something, we strongly encourage you to take it with you. There is nothing worse than getting home and trying in vain to track down your shipment. If you would like it shipped, make sure that:
- Your purchase will be very well packed (ask the salespeople to show you how they pack glassware for shipping).
- Make sure that you know how and when the shipment will reach you. Find out the name of the carrier and insist on getting a tracking number.
- Always take down the contact information of the factory and the name and e-mail of the salesperson in case any problems arise later on.
If while wondering around Murano island you come across a workshop where work is going on but you are refused entry, do not take it personally. The artisans we work with and many other reputable Murano glass artists do not open the doors of their workshops to tourists and here is why:
- The artisans consider their business a serious affair and heavily guard their glass-making secrets, so they would like to avoid any unnecessary distractions or intrusions
- The main expertise of the artisans is in production of Murano glass and not in entertaining tourists or explaining the process to them.
- The workshops arent’s staffed to handle the inflow of tourists
- No factories are usually interested in tourist visits just for the sake of showing them the glass-making process. Those factories that agree to hold these demonstrations do so for a chance to sell their wares, often in a pushy way and for above-average price.