Venice. It canals, its gondolas, its utterly charming atmosphere, an entire film scenery one names it. Who doesn’t love the magic it inspires, from songs, poems to sadness and other melancholy. However the island isn’t the only to deliver magic. Indeed Venice is surrounded by smaller islands scattered in the lagoon like gems, each with its own personality and charms.
Venice, as beautiful as it is, can get very crowded during certain periods. Whilst many would rather stick to the Piazza San Marco and other canals near the Rialto bridge, one who is curious enough to wander outside its walls and eager to know about the rural, traditional Venetian culture, should definitely go to the he outer islands, where one can explore various layers of history in a much quieter atmosphere.
Each island has its own identity. Each offer a glimpse into a Venice most visitors rarely take the time to find—and each is but a short boat ride away. But I shall highlight only two so far, which I had time to visit and I fell in love with, as similar as their names are : Murano and Burano.
The easiest way to get to both islands is to take the vaporetto (Italian ferry) from the Fondamente Nuove stop on Venice’s northern shore. There are other stops but this spot is the best to start a journey off to Murano then later Burano. From there ferries run every half hour, and the journey time to Burano is 42 minutes. So for a whole day, the best is to start at Murano, then the other half of the day to finish at Burano.
Murano Island, famous for glass-making, is the most popular island to visit. Murano’s glassmakers held a monopoly on high-quality glassmaking for centuries, developing or refining many technologies including crystalline glass, enameled glass, glass with threads of gold, multicolored glass, milk glass and imitation gemstones made of glass. Today, the artisans of Murano still employ these centuries-old techniques, crafting everything from contemporary art glass and glass jewelry to glass chandeliers and wine stoppers. Albeit they still keep the secret of the production of glass and crystal, you can still find out more about it in the glass museum. In some glass factories are organized tours and around Murano many canals there are many glass and souvenirs shops. For a late lunch break I would vivdly recommend the Osteria al Duomo Pizzeria, a restaurant right across the glass museum and main church Santi Maria. Initially it looks like a bar but there is a large outdoor and indoor area at the back. The freshly made pizzas and seafood are fantastic, and their desserts are as equally delicious.
With its canals sidewalk you generally manage to browse in Murano in peace, and if you can, walk towards the end of the village where you simply encounter the sea, a stunning scenery.
Burano Island is an island of picturesque canals, famous not only for its lmace-making but mostly for its colourful bright painted houses which are a feast for the eye and definitely a photographer’s paradise.
There are several good restaurants serving risotto and very fresh fish. Famous for artisan lace, you can buy lace products in many of the shops (preferably handmade) or visit the Lace Museum to find out more about the tradition of lace making. One of the backstories is whilst Burano’s fishermen were out on the lagoon, their wives would traditionally sit outside their coloured houses making lace. The standard of Burano’s lace was very high, and the island became famous for its quality. On a funny note Burano even has a leaning tower on one of its church, to rival Pisa tower after all.
Exploring Burano provides countless photo opportunities. There are many charming yards and squares where drying laundry adds to the general decorative gaiety of Burano. If you have longer to spend, it is also a nice place to enjoy lunch (seafood dishes are the best) or wander around the quieter lanes.
From Murano to Burano, go ahead, stare, explore the Venetian peace.