Murano is the biggest island of the lagoon. The unique and artistic way of working with glass has made it famous worldwide. All glass furnaces moved here on 1291 as a way of protecting Venice of the possible fires caused by the high temperatures that they can reach. Murano is an incredible place for glass shopping. You can buy anything that goes from a tiny piece of jewelry to a magnificent work of art. Museo d’Arte Vetraia is a great way of learning about the techniques of glass making from roman times up to today. Take a look at one of the oldest churches of the lagoon, the Church of Santa Maria e Donato. The abbey is breathtaking and the traditional Venetian floors are decorated with mosaic images of various birds like roosters, turkeys and eagles.
This is the sunniest, most cheerful and most colorful island of the lagoon. An old fisherman’s island where houses are painted in bright colors: dark blue, green, pink and any other possible colors. The different colors used to help the fishermen find their way back home. The island is also famous for the old and traditional lace-making technique known as Merleto. The Scuola del Merleto was founded in the Palace del Podesta in order to keep the secrets of this art. Today it is a museum. Opposite this is the Church of San Martino, worth paying a visit to see the painting of Tiepolo in the sacristy.
Torcello is a surprising and mysterious island. There’s only one pedestrian street along the wild nature of this island giving you the idea of what the lagoon looked like once upon a time. Apart from the colonies of cats almost no one lives here. It’s believed that the first inhabitants of the island were the people from Altino who had escaped from the Barbaric invasions of the Unni and Longobardi (V-VII century). On your way to the churches you’ll find the Ponte del Diavolo that is said to have been built by the hands of Satan in the course of one night. Once you reach the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta (639 Veneto- Byzantine style), you’ll appreciate the elegance of this religious sanctuary. Outside the church still stands a marble throne known as the Throne of Attila that again reveals the mysteries of this island.
This island is better known as the orchard of Venice. An ideal green island for a relaxing walk. The fortress built in 1797 has recently been restored and houses art exhibitions and other cultural activities. Before jumping back on the vaporetto to Venice, enjoy a pleasant drink or meal in the Trattoria near the fortress where you’ll enjoy a lovely view of the lagoon. If you visit Venice in the spring, try the “castraure” a small and tasty artichoke that only grows on this island.
San Francesco del Deserto
The island takes it name after the magnificent Franciscan monastery. It was built in 1233 when San Francesco returned from his trip to Egypt. If you would like to visit this island you must book in advance. The monks will come to pick you up from Burano, the closest island.