Retreat and refuge of those fleeing from the mainland looking
for shelter from the Barbaric invasions, Murano,
originally known as AMURANIUM, became prosperous,
arriving at its splendour in the 16th Century.
It has always been a self-governed centre, maintaining its
own administration with respect to Venice and enjoying a local
government administration, which uses ancient laws from 1272,
under the jurisdiction of a Podestà: at the end of
the fall of the Republic it had its own assembly; becoming
the golden book of its original families, who took delight
in special privileges (the Venetian police were not allowed
to go ashore on the island), the minting of the oselle, that
is the medallion/coin which were gifted to the most important
citizens (the name derived from the fact that the Doges gifted
birds to the most important citizens, which were then substituted
by these medallions). The laws, including the working laws,
were sanctioned from a mariegola (roll - register, list of
people belonging to a determined class – of the artisan
corporations) created to avoid revealing the secrets of the
glass processing: in exchange for keeping the islands secrets,
the islanders enjoyed special privileges. During its period
of major prosperity, the island had 17 churches, convents,
charitable institutions and academies.
The island was chosen as the main industrial seat of the l’arte
del vetro dal 1291 (art of glass, 1291) because of two reasons:
it is positioned downwind in respect to Venice, therefore
the rivers housing the furnaces didn’t pollute the city’s
air and secondly, to avoid danger of fire in the central inhabited
area. The activity is ancient, but the true main impetus occurred
when Venice came into contact with the Saracene workshops
of Syria, between the 11th and 12th centuries.
- Piazzetta della colonna (waterbus
- Fondamenta dei Vereri following the
coast of the homonymous canal: originally witnessing the
growth of the glass factories. Palazzo Contarini/Mazzolà
of the 16th Century – Gothic houses positioned on
the two edges of the shore.
- Ponte Ballarin: from which the government
bands were read, a lion can still be seen situated on
one of the columns.
- Across the Fondamenta Manin and to
the right, there’s Viale Garibaldi
(the target) with l’Ospizio (charitable
institution) for the widows of glass workers, the F:M
Piave theatre (famous author of operas: “I
due Foscari”, “Rigoletto”, “Traviata,”
all for Giuseppe Verdi) and the lighthouse.
- To the left: Fondamenta di S. Giovanni Battista
- To the left: Fondamenta Antonio Colleoni.
- At the end: Campo S. Stefano, and
a long established osteria (bar) “Taverna
di S. Stefano”.
- Ponte S. Pietro (bridge) and homonymous
Chiesa (church) with its doorway and
bell tower dating back to the beginning of 6th Century,
the Vera da Pozzo of 1348
- Coming back to the foundations of glass, at no. 139
there’s a small 8th Century Pharmacy,
adorned with paintings of Fontebasso. (8th Century artist
between rococo and neo classicism).
- Ponte Vivarini, called “long
bridge” from which you can see the Palazzo
da Mula, to the left, being one of the largest
factories of Murano, with Gothic memories and 6th Century
- After the bridge, on the right, Fondamenta
Cavour and Fondamenta Giustiniani,
with the homonymous Palazzo (Palace),
today’s main branch of the Museo Vetrario.
- Arrival in campo S. Donato housing
the Basilica di S. ti Maria e Donato
monument, built in the Venetian-Byzantine period of the
12th Century, not far behind S. Marco.
Probably built in the 7th Century and dedicated to Saint
Maria, adding the title of Saint Donato from 1125, after
his relics were transported from Cefalonia. The date,
1140, visible in the mosaic flooring, indicates the church’s
completion. It was restored between 1858 and 1873, and
in more recent times, restored to its primitive form.
The hexagonal L’abside (apse) with
false arches joined by columns and overheard galleries,
is one of the highest examples of the Veneto-Byzantine
architecture. The Façade, with
origins from Ravenna, is basilican in shape.
The interior is laid out like a cathedral,
with three naves divided by five columns with Corinthian/Byzantine
shrines. The Ceiling is wooden like a
“ship’s keel”. The flooring
is a mosaic of marble polychromed glass pieces, depicting
ornamental motifs and symbolic bestial figures: to the
right between the 2nd and 3rd columns, two cocks support
a Fox: symbolic of vigilance which wins over cunning.
Dating back to 1140, it’s contemporary with that
of S. Marks. In the middle circle, the
Latin inscription reads “Anno Domini Millesimo Centesimo
Quadragesimo. Primo. Mense Septembri. Indicione Quinta.
In Nomine Domini Nostri Jesus Christi.
In the main apse, the Byzantine arch
basin is preserved, with only the Virgin,
in the Orante form (standing with open
arms and hands facing the sky).
The CAMPANILE (Tower) is four-sided and
has three sections.
- Cross the S. Donato Bridge
- Then go onto the Fondamenta Navagero,
named after a historical, humanist literary man, whose
gardens were full of exotic plants, one of the first botanical
collections in Europe; a meeting place for Venetian nobles
to read the classics.
From here, you can get the boat for Venice.