We all know Venice as the “Floating City”; an exquisite array of architecture, masks and romance. But what of the islands located within a stone’s throw of this remarkable city? These lesser-known islands are not to be missed during your stay in the City of Bridges.
I will be the first to admit that when I see a shiny, gorgeous glass creation I have a hard time resisting the urge to buy it right then and there. Glass lovers like myself will be hard-pressed to find anywhere in the world that has a better selection of exquisite glass than Murano. In fact, this beautiful island is one of the leading locations for glassmaking and has been for hundreds of years. In 1291, Venetian glassmakers were forced to move their workshops to Murano, as there was too great a risk of fire in the mostly wooden Venice. It was on Murano that Venetian glass began to flourish and win the attention of glass lovers the world over. Murano glassmakers became known for their ability to create many different kinds of glass, including crystalline glass, aventurine (glass with threads of gold in it) and millefiori (multicoloured glass). Today, glassmakers on Murano continue to employ the ancient glassmaking techniques that their predecessors held in such high esteem. Some of the most renowned glassmaking companies are still located on Murano including Seguso, Barovier & Toso and Simone Cenedese. Also located on Murano is the Museo Vetrario or Glass Museum. Glass lovers can learn more about the history of the creation of glass and view exquisite glassworks from Ancient Egypt to today. So while in Venice, why not tour the home of Venetian glass, and pick up a piece or two while you’re at it?
In my travels, I am not sure I have come across a location that is lovelier than Burano. Burano is one of those places that must be seen to be believed, but let me try to explain anyway. Imagine a small, sleepy village with rows of houses leaning against one another, cobblestone streets weaving in and out and modest bridges crisscrossing sparkling canals. Now imagine each of those houses and bridges being painted a vibrant hue, no two alike. And when I say vibrant, I mean colours that could give the most beautiful bird of paradise a run for his money. This is Burano, a village painted in a riot of superb colours. While walking its streets, I couldn’t help but think I had stumbled into some sort of fairytale and that any moment the whole village would burst into joyous song, so happy was the atmosphere of that multi-coloured town. Of course, apart from its brightly painted houses and shops, Burano is also known for the exquisiteness of its lace. It would seem that there is nothing that is not beautiful on the island of Burano.
Torcello is the oldest continuously populated region in Venice, though currently its population only consists of about 20 people. Though it once boasted the largest population in the Republic of Venice, today it is home to a slumbering, contemplative town that is as picturesque as it is petite. Despite the size of its population, or perhaps because of it, this is an island not to be missed. In fact, as I discovered, after the huge amount of people flooding Venice each day, Torcello will appear as a veritable paradise to a crowd-weary traveller. Apart from the delectable appeal of a moment in which to breathe and relax, Torcello also boasts some incredible attractions. The best known of these sights is the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, which was built in 639 and is home to some stunning Byzantine mosaics. There is something very earthy and innately charming about this cathedral. Perhaps it is the lingering presence of all of the souls who have travelled there to marvel at it’s beautify and antiquity. Whatever it is, the cathedral, and all of Torcello, is charming and deeply welcoming.