A visit to Galleria San Marco in Venice
Glass blowing is a very specialized art form and a must see when in Venice.The island of Venice itself is not famous for glassblowing and a lot of people go to the island of Murano, just north of the city.
This is a tourist trap and visitors are shown a very quick demonstration and then taken to the showroom to purchase items.Our Contiki tour included a factory visit to the famous Galleria San Marco in Venice and I was very grateful for the opportunity. I have never seen a live glass blowing demonstration before and was really excited. Years later I was fortunate to visit another glass blowing demonstration by the famous Russian glassblower, Yury Lenshin.
The artisans at Galleria San Marco love working with Contiki and the young people. They have had no formal training and skills have been passed on from generation to generation. It is wonderful to see the guys in action. Most of the people in our group were fascinated by their skills and enjoyed the tour immensely.
The demonstration is open to the public. There is no entrance fee and you can walk in and sit down to admire the artisans in action. They do appreciate you leaving a tip.
But what is glassblowing exactly and how does it work?
Molten glass is formed into a desired shape by blowing into the glass using a hollow steel pipe. They continually rotate the tube while air is blown into it.The glass maker then shapes it either by hand or with tools to create the most beautiful vases,sculptures and glass dishes. During the process, the glass is reheated several times in a large furnace.
You can immediately feel the heat from the furnace when entering the workshop. It is in this oven where the potash,limestone,sand and soda ash is heated into a molten mixture at 2000 degrees Fahrenheit! They use other elements to create the desired colour.
Now the fun begins! To sculpt a piece the glass maker will remove a specific amount of molten glass from the furnace with the steel tube. They pipe is preheated.
The glass maker then starts to blow into the end of the steel tube (opposite side of the molten glass!) to create a bubble that will be shaped into a master piece.
A special set of tweezers are being used to add detail to the creation as well as to pull the molten glass into the desired shape. It is then allowed to cool down.
Calle Larga San Marco, 525
30124 Venice, Italy
Tel: 041 5223725
Where: Venice, Italy
When: 3 April 2004