Visiting the Other Islands of Venice, Italy: Murano, Burano & Torcello

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… 

  1. Murano

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!

  1. Burano

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.

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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!

  1. Torcello

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!

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Visiting Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy

visiting-piazza-san-marco-venice-italyOur last stop on our two week Eurotrip this past spring was in Venice, Italy! We spent two and a half days there and knew that we had to see Piazza San Marco, one of the busiest squares in the city and home to the Doge’s Palace and the Basilica of San Marco.

Hoping to beat the crowds, we headed there first thing one morning and even though it was early April and not quite busy season yet, the square was already full of people. First we visited the Doge’s Palace, where Venice’s head of state, the Doge, lived for hundreds of years. Unlike the monarchs of other countries, the title of Doge did not pass from father to son through generations but rather the Doges of Venice were elected to the highest ranking position for a life-time term.

Like we did when visiting the palaces of Vienna, we opted to spend a few extra euros for an audio guide to listen to as we explored the palace. We began in the courtyard and then went inside and up the Gold Staircase. Unfortunately several of the rooms in the Doge’s apartments were closed that day, but we were able to see many of State Government rooms – huge extravagant chambers with paintings depicting Venetian history and portraits paying tribute to the past Doges.

We also saw the rooms of the armory and the collection of weapons and suits of armor from the 15th and 16th centuries. And the last stop on the tour was the prisons – including the corridor connecting the palace to the prison known as the“Bridge of Sighs.” It was nick-named as such because it was here that prisoners got their last glimpse of freedom looking out the tiny windows at the lagoon.

After leaving the Doge’s Palace in mid-morning, heading back out into square, we got in line to visit the Basilica of San Marco right next door.  Again it was hard to believe that it wasn’t even the busy tourist season, as we waited in line for about a half hour before being able to go inside. Though we were somewhat rushed going through due to the long line, we  were still able to take in the huge gold mosaics on the walls and the intricate marble floors.

Lining another side of the square is the long arcade of buildings that were once government offices and homes to high ranking officers. There is also the blue and gold clock tower with the winged lion, the symbol of Venice, at the top.

While it was definitely one of the most crowded places in the city, Piazza San Marco and its sights are must-sees while visiting Venice! Stay tuned for more from our time in Venice!

Sneak Peek part 2: Budapest and Venice 

I’ve made it back to the US after my two weeks in Europe! More to come on my trip but while I’m getting over my jet lag, here are some more photos, this time from the 2nd week of our trip, half of it in Budapest and the later half of the week in Venice…

Starting with Budapest, Hungary!

 

The Parliament Building in Budapest

 

Hero Square in Budapest
View from the top of St. Stephen’s Basilica

 

One of the pools at the Gellert Baths
A photo from Fisherman’s Bastion, that’s the Parliament building over my shoulder!

 

 

A shot of Buda Castle all lit up at night

 

And a few from Venice, Italy!

 

One of the many many canals we walked over!
A couple of gondolas parked along the Grand Canal

 

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St. Mark’s Basilica in Piazza San Marco

 

On the colorful island of Burano!

And that’s it for today’s sneak peek. Once I’ve had a chance to catch up on sleep here in the next few days, we’ll start posting more about all of the places I visited on my trip!