There’s more to Italy’s Venetian Lagoon than the island of Venice itself. Experience the beauty, art and craftsmanship of the people of the ancient Venetian Republic by exploring some of the lagoon’s lesser known islands including Murano, Burano and Torcello.
Murano – the island of glass makers
The island of Murano draws a steady stream of visitors due to its tradition of glass making; for centuries experienced glassblowers have transformed raw materials into works of art. Murano is home to the Murano Glass Museum in the Palazzo Giustinian, which houses displays on the history of glassmaking as well as samples of glass ranging from Egyptian times through to the present. Many glass factories offer tours with shops selling glass creations and souvenirs. Other attractions on the island include the Basilica of Santa Maria e San Donato, the Church of Saint Peter the Martyr and the Palazzo da Mula, along with a host of canals, sidewalk cafes and restaurants.
Burano – the island of lace workers
A photographer’s paradise, Burano is an island of picturesque canals lined with extravagantly coloured houses. It offers a relaxing departure from some of the busier islands of Venice and Murano. Renowned for its artisan lace, the Museum and School of Lacemaking offers an insight into the tradition of lace making while almost every store on the island sells lace products. Additional attractions include the Church of San Martino, famous for its leaning tower, the Oratorio di Santa Barbara and a number of restaurants serving fresh fish and flavoursome risotto.
Torcello – the birthplace of the lagoon
Once a thriving town of 8000 inhabitants, today Torcello is a semi-rural island with just 25 permanent residents and extensive nature reserves. Torcello’s main attraction is the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, founded in 639 and host to a range of spectacular 11th and 12th century Byzantine mosaics. Other attractions encompass the Church of Santa Fosca and the Museo Provinciale di Torcello. Torcello is the perfect place to escape the crowds and enjoy a peaceful stroll or lunch.
San Lazzaro degli Armeni – the monastery island
San Lazzaro degli Armeni, literally Saint Lazarus of the Armenians, has been occupied by an Armenian Catholic monastery since 1717. Initially a leper colony, it received its name from Saint Lazarus, the patron saint of lepers. The island is home to a 150,000 volume library along with a museum containing over 4,000 Armenian manuscripts and many Arab, Indian and Egyptian artifacts. San Lazzaro degli Armeni is touted as one of the world’s foremost centres of Armenian culture and history.
Lido di Venezia – host of the Venice Film Festival
Trendier and more residential than traditional Venice, the Lido still offers an array of canals, a variety of dining options and impressive views of the city from across the lagoon – without the crowds and accompanying noise. Lido is the beach of Venice and famous for its Movie Festival, held every year between the end of August and the first week of September. The heart of the island is the Gran Viale Santa Maria Elisabetta, a wide street housing hotels, shops and tourist-centric restaurants.