Hidden treasures

The invention of glasses in Venice

Historical Curiosities

The invention of glasses in Venice

The first glasses in history were shaped in one of the most famous islands of the Venetian lagoon, the island of Murano, where in 1100, the Serenissima Republic assembled the furnaces to keep the art of glass production secret. Here, already in the middle of the thirteenth century, the 'lapides ad legendum' were manufactured, i.e. lenses that allowed objects positioned underneath to be magnified. However, the first, true glasses, the 'roidi da ogli', were invented at the end of the same century, when it was understood that to correct sight problems, it was necessary to place the lenses in front of the eyes and not on the object to be looked at.

The first description of glasses dates back to 1284 and is chronicled in an important Venetian document, the Chapter, or the status of the art of the Cristalleri in which it was established that roidi da ogli had to be made of pure crystal and not just glass. Initially, therefore, the lenses were convex and made of rock crystal or beryl. The first glasses consisted of two round lenses joined together by a leather string to be placed in a precarious balance on the nose. This type of lens was intended to correct the presbyopia of older people.

In the fifteenth century, the concave lenses for the short-sighted were finally created, as well as a new system to secure them to the face composed of a leather loop passing behind the ears. Over time, the types of frames and materials were changed to encompass iron, wood and horn in order to achieve the most comfortable and elegant result.

Originally exclusive and expensive objects, from the sixteenth century glasses became an accessory suitable for all pockets to remedy the sight defects of most of the population, greatly improving the quality of life. With the passage of time, glasses from simple sight correction equipment became real fashion and style objects with the creation of infinite designs for lens and frames.

Are you ready to discover other fascinating stories of inventions, legends and dark mysteries? Continue to follow our section and if you are traveling to Venice do not miss the opportunity to live a magical experience with one of our guided tours to discover an unusual side to Venice!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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