This story is part of our new Style Italia
series exploring the past, present and future of Italian design.
The glassmakers of 14th century Venice had it pretty good.
Unlike ordinary residents, they could walk around with swords in public (major status symbol), were completely immune from state prosecution and their daughters were invited to marry blue-blooded Venetian nobility.
But they were also treated as if at the mercy of a jealous lover: never allowed to leave the confines of the Republic and prohibited -- at pain of death -- from sharing even the most trivial trade secrets beyond the city walls.
It was what you might call a passionate relationship, and one that reflects just how central glassmaking was to Venice's economy and reputation.
Fast-forward to the present and the craft still thrives in Murano -- a row of tiny islands strung together by bridges in the Venetian lagoon.
Here, tucked away in quiet workshops thick with an air of deep concentration, furnaces burn at over 1300 degrees Celsius as today's master glassmakers (or "maestros") twist, roll and artfully prod a syrupy molten gloop into unspeakably elegant forms.
Watch the video above to see the maestros at work.
What does 'Made in Italy' mean today?