When your train pulls into Venice and your water ferry arrives at your stop, whichever route you lug your suitcases down, you are sure to notice almost immediately that the little shops which line the narrow alleys are packed with exquisite Murano glass creations. From the corner of my eye, I noticed that my family were fascinated with the candy colours and while walking to the hotel, they would slow down to marvel at the mass of detailed artwork which frankly, tends to confuse tourists who simply cannot decide on any one bowl, vase or set of earrings.
Inevitably, you will get carried away picturing that striking mirror in your bathroom back home or that typical Venetian chandelier with curved arms and sprouting flowers in wonderful colour combinations hanging from your entrance hall ceiling and naturally, every lady will be tempted into buying a draping necklace strung together with glass beads of every shape and size – I already have two! But I had to stop my cousin, who has a weakness for home ware, from making an impulsive purchase on day one. In broken Afrikaans, I told her to hold off just a tad until we had visited Murano, the island famous for hand-making all the creations found in Venice, while the store owner tried to convince her, with no success, that the factories there are over-priced 🙂
Getting to Murano was easy since most hotels organize private boat trips on request to the island where they have agreements with specific factories and as expected, the hotel probably gets a commission off any sales made. We were dropped off at the CAM Fornace factory and whisked into the sweltering hot workshop where we were given a brief explanation of the make-up of glass and talked through the technique as the craftsman were manipulating the molten material. Made up of sand, soda, lime and potassium which are melted together in an oven at 1500 degrees Celsius, artisans either use pliers and scissors to mould the glass or they blow air into the glass through a pipe to give it form.
From there, we were lead to the showroom where my cousin’s husband was attracted to a beautiful stallion tinted to a mysterious, dark shade and infused with gold foil for a tinsel effect. At the same time, my cousin’s heart was stolen by enchanting long-stemmed glasses and a matching decanter, although she was confused between two different, equally impressive patterns drawn with platinum.
They settled on the crystal glasses with the simpler pattern called ‘Panto‘ but disappointingly, when we arrived back in South Africa, the glasses which which were delivered to her door turned out to be the incorrect pieces. While they are pretty, it’s not what she wanted and the factory has refused to correct their mistake. What a pity. So, if you purchase any expensive collector’s pieces, be sure to ask all the right questions and get find out what their return policy is.