History of Venetian Glassblowing
Regional Glassblowing Emergence
Because the city of Venice was not officially founded until 421, there is no Roman glass to be found there—no matter how deeply one digs! On the nearby mainland, however, is the town of Altino, where recent excavations have revealed large numbers of high-quality Roman-period objects.9 Farther to the east is the important Roman city of Aquileia, which is thought to have been a glassmaking site, beginning, perhaps, in the late first century B.C. But it would be difficult to claim that either of these communities had any direct influence on the Venetian glass industry, which emerged a few hundred years later.
The year 1268 can be considered an approximate starting point for the Venetian glass industry.
Within the northwestern-most shoals of the Adriatic, among the nearly countless islands (a number of which, linked by bridges, form the city of Venice), is Torcello, nearly six miles away. This was probably the first glassmaking site in the Venetian lagoon; excavations there have yielded the remains of a furnace, as well as glassworking debris, dating between about 800 and 1000.10
The year 1268 can be considered an approximate starting point for the Venetian glass industry. That is the date of a document indicating the organization of a guild for the fiolarii (glassmakers). Three years later, the Venetian government established rules and regulations for the growing industry in the form of an elaborate document, the Capitolare. Incredibly, its essential edicts remained in place in some form until the guilds were formally dissolved in 1806.