What to see on the Lagoon islands
There are many islands scattered over the Venetian Lagoon. We have chosen four of our favourites for you.
The name Murano is inextricably tied to the art of glass blowing, and The Glass Museum is naturally the main attraction on the island. The collection includes artistic creations and memorabilia from every era, from the first centuries AD to the 20th century. A curiosity worth keeping an eye out for is the "Libro d’Oro" (Golden Book) of the "Magnifica Comunità di Murano", where the names of the great families of Murano are written, the custodians of glass art and founders of the most famous glass factories in the world.
On the island you can also visit the Church of Santa Maria e San Donato, dating back to the seventh century, and the Istrian stone lighthouse.
Known as the island of colours, Burano is famous for its brightly painted houses and its lace needlework. In fact, the community extends over not one but four islands in the northern part of the Venetian Lagoon. The only square in Burano is Piazza Galuppi, overlooked by typical restaurants and souvenir shops. In a Gothic mansion next to the Palazzo del Podesta, you can visit the Lace Museum, with over two hundred unique pieces from the collection of the local school.
The most colourful house in Burano is the Bepi Suà house, just behind the square. To see other brightly coloured houses, the best spots are Via Giudecca, Via San Mauro and Via San Martino Sinistro. If it's breathtaking sunsets you are looking for, head to La Pescaria Vecia, the historic local fish market, a popular destination for photographers and romantic couples alike.
Need a bite to eat? Burano inns serve risotto di gò, gudgeon risotto, the typical dish of the island, and Bussolà, delicious sweet biscuits.
Beloved by Ernest Hemingway, Torcello is found to the north of Burano, a small refuge for travellers in search of natural beauty. The island has some twenty inhabitants, living in ancient farmhouses and tiny educational farms, and is rich in traces of the Byzantine era, including the Church of Santa Fosca and the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. In the middle of the avenue leading to the square, along the major river, you can find the Devil's Bridge, a typical Venetian bridge with no guardrails.
Purple is the colour of Torcello: purple artichokes grow in the island's gardens, purple cardoons bloom in the summer, and purple limonium and salt marsh flowers dot the land.
Of the many islands of the Lagoon, Pellestrina is the closest to Chioggia. It represents the very essence of Venice, but in miniature: there are narrow streets and squares, and the sea is interwoven with the land in a maze of channels, winding between the closely spaced houses. Pellestrina is an island of fishermen and lace; a craft tradition kept alive since the late 15th century.
The Strada Comunale dei Murazzi crosses the entire length of the island to the southern tip, where the 18th century murazzi walls, made in Istrian stone and decorated with ornate friezes, plaques and capitals, divide the waters of the Adriatic and the Lagoon.
Chioggia can be seen beyond the line of the walls, just a stone's throw away. The Ca' Roman nature reserve is also found on Pellestrina, home to herring gulls, kingfishers, hawks, Mediterranean gulls and many other birds.