Murano is a series of islands linked by bridges in the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy. It lies about 1.5 km north of Venice and measures about 1.5 km (0.93 mi) across with a population of just over 5,000 (2004 figures). It is famous for its glass making, particularly lampworking. It was once an independent comune, but is now a frazione of the comune of Venice.
Murano was settled by the Romans, then from the sixth century by people from Altinum and Oderzo. At first, the island prospered as a fishing port and through production of salt. It was also a centre for trade, through the port it controlled on Sant'Erasmo. From the eleventh century, it began to decline as islanders moved to Dorsoduro. It had a Grand Council, like that of Venice, but from the thirteenth century Murano was ultimately governed by a podestà from Venice. Unlike the other islands in the Lagoon, Murano minted its own coins.
Early in the second millenium, hermits of the Camaldolese Order occupied one of the islands, seeking a place of solitude for their way of life. There they founded the Monastery of St. Michael (Italian: S. Michele di Murano). This monastery became a great center of learning and printing. The famous cartographer, Fra Mauro, whose maps were so crucial to European exploration of the world was a monk of this community. The monastery was suppressed in 1810 by French forces under Napoleon in the course of their conquest of the Italian peninsula, and the monks finally expelled in 1814. The grounds then became Venice's major cemetery.
In 1291, all the glassmakers in Venice were forced to move to Murano due to the risk of fires. In the following century, exports began, and the island became famous, initially for glass beads and mirrors. Aventurine glass was invented on the island, and for a while Murano was the main producer of glass in Europe. The island later became known forchandeliers. Although decline set in during the eighteenth century, glassmaking is still the island's main industry. [Wiki]
Fri Dec 16, 2011
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