Italy is a country known for its festivals. These celebrations are lively gatherings where communities come together to celebrate these special moments. In Venice, Carnevale is typically the most popular celebration in the city. However, there has been a new addition to the festival roster that is unique to the area.
In 2017, the international Venice Glass Week was created to celebrate the city’s centuries-long tradition of glass making. This year’s festival is especially important as the city is hoping to revitalize the city’s local artisan sector in the wake of the economic impact brought on by COVID-19. There are over 200 events scheduled across 100 venues throughout the city. Since the festival started, about 100,000 people take part in the festivities every year.
The art of glass blowing has been apart of Venice’s culture since the 8th-century. The Romans learned these skills from the Byzantine Empire and used their knowledge to create molded glass for the city’s bathhouses. Even though this tradition dates back to the Roman Empire, the industry didn’t become a significant local trade until the 1200s on the Venetian Island of Murano.
Local glassmakers decided to form the Glassmakers Guild and established rules and guidelines for the craft. This Guild allowed the city’s glassmaking to become a permanent staple on the island and thrived on the patronage of the city’s nobility. The glass industry continued to thrive until the 18th-century when competition from French artisans began to cut into the market. In 1814, Napoleon captured the city and caused the industry to almost completely disappear.
Thankfully, the tradition still lingered in some areas of the city and eventually regained a footing in the local market. Though the glassmaking industry is not on the same level as it used to be, nevertheless, it is still a vital part of the Venetian tradition.
The 2020 Venice Glass Week will run until September 13. Don’t worry if you’re unable to make this year’s celebration; this exciting festival will be around for years to come.