Glass making in Empoli goes back to when massive glass containers were made to hold the locally produced wines. Starting from the mid-19th century, the classic green "flasks" with their straw covered bases have progressively grown in importance both in Italy and the wider international context.
Green Empoli glass hasn’t only been used to make wine bottles though. The production reached its golden age in the period between the two World Wars, when a large quantity of decorative objects were made. However, the market eventually lost interest and production of both ornaments and more practical objects tailed off.
Nowadays, Empoli and surroundings are one of the most important glass producing regions in Italy. The many stages of glass production are carried out by a number of small and large companies which count for a significant chuck of the local economy.
Green glass is worked together with yellow and blue varieties. Artistic glass works are increasing in popularity again, both hand worked and blown varieties and are often destined to be used as part of home furnishings.
A little south of Empoli, specifically in Gambassi, there is documented evidence of glass making that goes back to the 13th century (several archeological digs have uncovered ancient kilns) and a permanent exhibition cherishes a collection of glass products across the centuries. The glass makers of Gambassi were well known throughout Italy during the Renaissance period.