While in Venice, I attended a glass blowing demonstration. The city and especially neighboring island Murano are known for intricate glass work. We watched as the craftsman first blew a vase out of clear hot melted glass and then melted it down to reshape into a horse figurine. Glassblowing involves inflating a molten blob of glass via pockets of air and then working the glass into desired shapes. The skill and ease with which he made the items was astonishing! Still, his skill level was only labeled that of a tier 2. A “master” craftsman is one that can make chandeliers, which are large intricate pieces that involve multiples days worth of shaping.
After the demonstration, we browsed a glass shop which was stocked full with glass pieces in every color. Glass is clear in its original form, but can be colored if certain metallic oxide powders are introduced in its molten state. Copper oxide produces green or bluish green, cobalt creates deep blue, and gold or copper produce red. Red glass objects were priced more expensive accordingly. I especially liked the animal figures, which which extremely lifelike!
Visiting Italy – Trip Planning Checklist
There's so much to see and do in Italy that you can visit again and again and still discover new sights. I recommend concentrating on the big 4 cities (Rome, Venice, Milan & Florence) if it's your first time and then coming back to explore either Northern Italy or Southern Italy in more depth.
Go | Flight prices from the US to Italy are highly seasonal. You can set a fare alert here to be notified of discounts. Every fall & winter, I've seen great deals to Milan. One word of caution: avoid Alitalia at all costs!
Getting Around | A convenient way to explore Italy is via high speed train. You can search train schedules and book online here. Buy your tickets in advance to save on fares. Make sure to validate your ticket on the platform!
It also helps to speak a little Italian. Brush up on your Italian language skills with Rosetta Stone. You can take 10% off with promo code CJBT10.
Stay | Book hotels in advance to save, or check here for last minute deals. Many hotels in Italy are older so don't be surprised if even 5 star accommodation feels slightly dated. Opt for a room with a view instead of breakfast, as Italians don't eat breakfast in the same way Americans do and you'll probably be disappointed with their offering.
Alternatively, groups or budget travelers can check out Airbnb.
Protect | Lastly, be sure to visit Italy with travel insurance. Whether you get injured and need to be hospitalized, your phone gets stolen, or a flight delay leaves you with nothing but the clothes on your back, travel insurance will help when you need it most.