Around about the 7th century an Italian navigator brought the process back to Venice.
By the late 1400s the glass blowers of Murano — named for the island to which they had been ordered because their ovens were a fire hazard among the wooden palaces of Venice — had established a dominance that lasted more than 600 years.
Perhaps the only thing that rivaled it was Venice's other unique product, the music of its native son Vivaldi. And then someone did to the Murano masters what they had done to the Phoenicians: Factory owner Marco Mazzega discovered one of this best-selling items had been copied and was on the market in the United States at 1/3 the price.
It was made in China under conditions nothing like those at Murano. A mere 1,300 workers make glass worthy of the Murano trademark, about the same number employed by a single factory in China, where they don't have to worry about personal safety or environmental hazards. In China, they use arsenic which pollutes the air and is not safe for the workers.
Most consumers can't tell the difference, but the Murano glass-makers say anyone who buys a fake is not just getting poor quality; they're being cheated out of a unique history of culture and pride.
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