How to buy Murano Glass in Venice

Few souvenirs can match the beauty, craftsmanship, uniqueness of Murano glass from Italy.  It is truly the finest glassworks that money can buy.

How to get from Venice to Murano by vaporetto.

Many a tourist wanders from Venice to purchase a treasure.  We have put together a few tried and true tips for getting the most for your money on Murano.

murano glass1)Take emotion out of the equation, then put it back in at the end.

Huh?  Yep, we said it.  Take the emotion out of the equation.  It is critical to be realistic with what your budget can afford.  Before you take one step off the ferry, decide what your budget will be.  Seek agreement with your significant other on what the parameters will be.  This place is not for the faint of heart, or worse yet for a weak wallet.  Take the emotion out the purchase.  Once you have agreed on a limit.  Double it.  This is Murano!

Be realistic with what you can carry back home.  Glass doesn’t pack well.  It is heavy.  It is fragile.   Shipping delicate glassworks is also a bit of a risk.  Who is going to be responsible should it break in route?  Most turistas are going to carry their purchase with them the rest of the trip to avoid theft, or breakage.  This is a huge commitment if you are just beginning your holiday.

2)Keep Walking

One constant that we have found in shopping during our travels is there is always, always a better deal, just a few feet further.  I don’t know how many times we have “thought” that we received a steal of a deal, then walked a few more feet and found it for half of the price.   (Enter fighting couple fight #445).  The rule applies to Murano.  Candidly, we found the further we walked deeper into the island, the better deals and quality.

3) Ask Questions

One of the first questions to ask, was this made in Murano?  It’s a fair question.  The answer might surprise you.  Assuming you have a vendor with integrity, the answer could be no.  Which is fine, don’t get us wrong.  You just need to go into the purchase with your eyes open wider than your pocketbook.  Ask how it was made.  Ask about the colors, what were they made of?  Ask about the artist.  Questions will not only protect you from being shammed, but will also lend intrigue to your purchase.  Of course the key question is to ask for a certificate of authenticity, validating what the handsome salesman has explained to you.

One of the best questions we asked our salesman was, “what else do you have?”  A warm Italian grin formed and we were led back to the workshop and back sales room.  This is where the good stuff is kept.

Italian glass4) Let the Games Begin.

Remember you are in Italy.  This is not Wal mart.  You are not bound by what the price tag might say.  Granted in Murano, small glass items like jewelry, trinkets and coasters will likely be a fixed price.  Once you beginning bidding on larger pieces, price becomes secondary.

One key to good negotiation is finding a flaw in the piece that you want.  Pointing out a flaw in the glass will be easy due to the nature of glass blowing.  Your salesman will be offended at first at you boldness to point out a flaw in his “masterpiece”.  Simply smile and refer to the vendor down the boardwalk that had one similar with out the flaw.  Prices will suddenly become more fluid.

5) Timing is Everything

One of the most difficult things about buying anything in Murano is the time factor.  Time is not on your side.  You hit the island with a gaggle of other turistas.  You have the ferry schedule in one hand and a melting gelato in the other.  You are always pressed for time.  Thoughts that “I will never, ever find this again.  I must buy.”  WRONG!  You will.  And it will have more (insert fave color) in it.  And it will be 100 euros cheaper.  Don’t fall into the time trap.  Key to effective glass buying and negation is the ability to turn on your heels and walk out on your dream purchase.   This is painful.  It must be done.

We hope that like us, you fall in love with Venice and with Murano.  Stay in a wonderful bed and breakfast nearby.  Make multiple trips over to Murano.  Spend those Eurodollars!

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2 Responses to How to buy Murano Glass in Venice

  1. Gina December 13, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

    Great tips! I bought a glass clock when I was there and managed to make it all the way back home with it bundled up in my backpack without breaking. Then 3 months later it fell of my desk and broke in two! Luckily a nice glassmaker in the states was able to weld it back together for me. :) Such beautiful trinkets in Murano!

  2. admin December 15, 2012 at 9:12 am #

    That is incredible that they were able to fix it! Thanks for the comment.