When I was in Rome last month, I saw millefiori articles for sale in shops all over the city. My friend Pat collects millefiori paperweights so, of course, we had to check out each one.
Although the technique used to create these little glass masterpieces is associated with Venice, it actually goes back to ancient Rome, as indicated by the estimated age of this dish discovered in the section of London that was originally part of Roman Londinium.
A rare Roman millefiori dish has been unearthed by archaeologists from the grave of a wealthy Londoner.
The dish, which has gone on display at the Museum of London in Docklands, was found during excavations in Prescot Street, in Aldgate, east London.
It was pieced together from its many fragments.
It is made up of hundreds of translucent blue indented glass petals, bordered with white embedded in a bright red glass background.
The dish formed part of the grave goods of the Roman Londoner whose cremated remains were uncovered in a container in a cemetery in Londinium's (the Roman name for London) eastern quarter. - BBC News
The millefiori technique involves the production of glass canes or rods, known as murrine, with multicolored patterns which are viewable only from the cut ends of the cane. A murrine rod is heated in a furnace, pulled until thin while still maintaining the cross section's design, and then cut into beads or discs when cooled.
[Image right courtesy of Murano Millefiori]
[Millefiori] canes, probably made in Italy, have been found as far away as 8th century archaeological sites in Ireland, and millefiori was used in thin slices to brilliant effect in the early 7th century Anglo-Saxon jewellery from Sutton Hoo. - Wikipedia