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Murano glass in Venice threatened by rising gas prices

The explosion of gas prices is threatening entire sectors of the economy of Italy, in particular to the famous glass and crystal manufacturers of the island of Murano, in Venice, affected by the increase in energy bills of up to 600%.

“It’s a huge problem … a hurricane that has hit the economy,” Luciano Gambaro, president of the Association for the Promotion of Murano Glass, Promovetro, told AFP in a telephone interview.

The manufacture of blown glass must be done in ovens that must remain on seven days a week to guarantee the fire that shapes the glass, so energy is the second largest expense of factories after work.

“Until September we paid 20 cents per cubic meter. In the December invoice the price was 1.27 euros, an increase of more than 600%“, explained the businessman, who employs six people in his workshop, in the heart of Murano, the small island in the Venetian lagoon, famous for its glass and artistic crystals.

“It’s a huge problem (…) a hurricane that has hit the economy,” commented Luciano Gambaro. AFP photo

aids

In November, the Veneto region, aware of the centennial importance that the production of artistic glass represents throughout the world, allocated three million euros to help glaziers in the face of record high gas prices.

“Unfortunately, that money is going to run out at the end of February,” lamented Gambaro, “very concerned” about the prospect of having to “pay the full price starting in March.”

For him, it’s about “a very strong blow” of “a problem more serious than covid,” he assured.

Gianni Moretti, one of the manufacturers.  AFP Photo

Gianni Moretti, one of the manufacturers. AFP Photo

“Despite everything, we had managed to continue working,” sighs the craftsman, whose production is mostly destined for export, either for luxury hotels and restaurants or for wealthy individuals.

Gas “is just the tip of the iceberg”emphasizes his colleague, Cristiano Ferro, owner and manager of the Effetre Murano company, which employs 32 people for 16 ovens.

“All raw materials have increased by 20, 30, 40, 50%: sand, clay, the mineral oxides that are used to color glass,” he explained.

Murano glass, all made by hand, allows you to create authentic multicolored works of art.  AFP photo

Murano glass, all made by hand, allows you to create authentic multicolored works of art. AFP photo

Faced with the situation, there are few solutions for entrepreneurs in the sector, so they have had to increase the price for sale: “We have raised prices from 15 to 30%, we will see how the market reacts,” says Gambaro philosophically.

By hand

Murano glass, all made by hand, allows you to create authentic multicolored works of art, some of which are exhibited in important museums.

It is a luxury product that has been able to adapt to all times, thanks also to the collaboration of great designers.

According to the president of Promovetro, the solution requires “an agreement between European countries” to “find countermeasures” against Russia, the largest supplier.

For Cristiano Ferro, the glaziers have been “among the first affected by the problem (…) but it is a reality that concerns all Italian manufacturing activity”.

The glaziers have been "among the first affected by the problem.  AFP Photo

The glaziers have been “among the first affected by the problem. Photo AFP

Mario Draghi’s government knows the situation well. “It is likely that by next year the cost of total energy absorb all funds from the plan for national economic reactivation” post-pandemic granted by the European Union, the Minister for the Ecological Transition, Roberto Cingolani, warned this Monday, quoted by the ANSA agency.

Italy is the first beneficiary of that plan with some 200,000 million euros (228,000 million dollars).

Despite the threat hanging over Murano and its glass artists, Luciano Gambaro wants to remain optimistic. “We have a problem, but we will overcome it. We’ve been here for a thousand years!” stressed.

Indeed, already in the 13th century, faced with the terrible fires caused by the wood-burning ovens of the stained glass windows, which were then located in the old town, the Venice authorities ordered the transfer to Murano of all the workshops, a measure crowned with the success.

AFP Agency

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