The city of Venice, Italy is made up of many islands – over 100 of them! Most of the islands that make up the city are all connected by hundreds of bridges crossing canals and it’s so easy to walk from one to the next that you almost forget they are separate islands. There are also a few islands outside of the city that you won’t just stumble upon. You have to take the water bus to get to them but they are definitely worth the trip out to them…
Murano is known as the glass making island! There are shops up and down the main canal where local glassmakers sell their beautiful creations, everything from earrings and charms to chandeliers. There is the Murano Glass Museum and other glass making demonstrations that you can pay to visit, but if you’re lucky, you can find a shop where you can watch a local craftsman at work. At one of the shops we came across, the owner was creating tiny glass Christmas tree charms!
While Murano is the glass making island, Burano is known for its lace making! Similar to Murano, if you’re lucky, you can find a local lace maker at work.
Burano is also known for color – all of the buildings are painted in bright colors. Having seen pictures of the beautiful colored houses in Burano, I had expected it to be just one street. I was happily surprised to find the colorful buildings cover the entire island, even once you get away from the bustling touristy streets to the quieter, more residential areas!
Unlike Murano and Burano, Torcello doesn’t have a trade that it is known for – in fact, it is practically deserted now! It was actually one of the first settled islands in the Venetian lagoon, but eventually became too swampy and most of its residents left for Burano, Murano or Venice. According to Wikipedia, the island only has 10 full-time residents today.
Arriving on the island, as you walk down the one main street, there’s a small souvenir shop and a little café. After stopping for gelato, we walked the rest of the way into the town. The main attraction was the cathedral, which we unfortunately got there too late to go inside. But we did take turns sitting on Attila’s Throne, an ancient stone chair sitting in the middle of the courtyard that likely once belonged to a governor or bishop.
A few tips for visiting these islands:
- These islands are about a 45 minute water bus ride from Venice, but once you’re on one of the three, it’s a much shorter trip to the others, so I’d recommend trying to fit them all into the same trip.
- Make sure to note when the last water bus leaves – it’s likely in the early evening and you don’t want to miss it!
- Murano and Burano are great places to shop for souvenirs, but shop around before you buy – you’ll probably find better prices further away from the water bus stops.
- If you’re looking for an authentic souvenir, one sign that something might not be is if there are others like it (we saw several shops selling lace scarves of the same design in multiple colors). Stay away from duplicates if you are looking for something truly traditional, but know that you will spend more on it!
If you are visiting Venice, I definitely recommend making time to visit these islands, especially Burano and Murano!