ABOVE AND BELOW: Photos from one of our own visits to a Murano glass factory.
If you're near the Piazza San Marco in Venice, there's a good chance that you'll be approached by someone who's offering a free boat ride to a glass factory on the island of Murano . Such trips are paid for by glass merchants who are trolling for prospective customers. We haven't taken any free boat rides to Murano ourselves (we prefer to use public transportation and avoid sales pitches), but plenty of visitors do. Here's a report from a British reader who accepted a "concessionary trip" and lived to tell the tale:
"I have just returned from a 5-day trip to Venice which was very much enhanced by your excellent website. It shows how just a little research (well... several hours actually) before travelling enabled us to 'hit the ground running.' The vaporetto service is possibly the best way to see Venice since it allows you to hop on and off as you wish.
"One piece of information you may already have knowledge of, is about a 'concessionary trip' we had to the Murano glass factory. We were in San Marco and heard a man offering free trips to Murano. Intrigued and sceptical, we asked about how this free trip worked. In the event we were taken to a water taxi near the San Marco Vaporetto stop. Before the taxi left San Marco we asked the taxi driver if this was really free of charge and if so how? He explained that the factory pay to get you there but you have to make your own way back, which may be by water taxi or by public transport.
"We were whisked off via several canals, to Murano where we were met at the factory water taxi entrance by a friendly Venetian gentleman who walked us through the factory and waited while we watched a glass-blowing demonstration (where the guy produced a 'Ferrari' prancing horse from a glob of molten glass) and then taken by another man to the shop next door. He then took us to a roped off private viewing area. He was clearly expecting us to make a purchase (we didn't by the way - I'm a half Scottish Yorkshireman) but there was no particular hard sell. After about a 20 minute tour and having viewed some truly beautiful contemporary and historical Morano glass-art, we left the building and went for an enjoyable walk around Murano with lunch by the canal.
"Clearly Murano glass rely on getting some sales and the taxi firm rely on some tourists not knowing about the public transport alternative. With the knowledge gained from your site, it was simple enough to get a 24h Vaporetto ticket (which we used to maximum effect over the next 24 hours!). So you really can get something for nothing - sometimes. You just need to ask the right questions at the start."
- Chris A., United Kingdom
Tip: For more information on Venetian glass and glassmaking, see our Venice for Visitors article titled "Murano: The Glass Island."