Whoever goes to Venice cannot fail to include in the itinerary a hop on the other islands that are also part of the city, the beautiful Murano, Burano and Torcello. Each of them has particular characteristics and interesting stories that make the trip worthwhile. You can easily see them all in the same day. Come with us to discover the islands of Venice!
ISLANDS OF VENICE: MURANO, BURANO AND TORCELLO
From Venice to Murano it takes about 30 minutes by boat; from Murano to Burano also about 30 minutes; and from Burano to Torcello, just 10 minutes. The islands are small, so you can visit all of them in half a day.
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MURANO: THE ISLAND OF GLASS
Founded by the Romans in the 6th century, Murano is 1.5 km north of Venice, has a population of approximately 5,000 and is famous for the glass industry. Around the year 1000, hermits of the Camaldolese Order occupied the place, looking for a place of solitude for their way of life. There they founded the Monastery of St. Michael of Murano. This monastery became a great center of learning and printing. However, the monastery was suppressed in 1810 by French forces under Napoleon, in the course of his conquest of the Italian peninsula, and the monks were expelled in 1814. The site eventually became Venice's largest cemetery. Murano has become the venice glass production center because in 1291 all the glassmakers in Venice were forced to move to Murano because of the risk of fire. This made the local industry develop and Murano became the largest producer of crystals in Europe!
Attractions on the island include the Church of Santa Maria and San Donato; The Church of San Pietro Martire; it's the Mule's Palace. As for attractions related to glass, there are many glass factories open to the public which feature a quick and impressive display of production of glass works (both blown and sculpture) before tourists are taken to the store to purchase locally produced pieces, and the Murano Glass Museum, which tells the story of this industry, housed in Palazzo Giustinian (Address: Fondamenta Giustinian, 8, 30141 Venezia, Italy / Hours: open daily from 10 am to 6 pm / Admission: 10 euros). It was on the island that the American artist Dale Chihuly (the one with the beautiful glass gallery in Seattle and the work of ceiling art in the lobby of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas) learned the techniques used in his works.
BURANO: THE ISLAND OF COLORED HOUSES
Burano is located 7 km from Venice and is famous for its colorful houses that create a simply amazing look! The island was also founded by the Romans in the 6th century and currently has less than 3,000 inhabitants. Burano is super compact and very easy to visit, there's no way to get lost there. It is said that the houses began to be painted in bright colors so that the fishermen could identify them after they were returning from a long fishing trip. A curiosity is that the colored houses are painted according to a specific system from the 16th century. In this way, if someone wants to paint their house, they must send a request to the government, which will answer what colors are allowed for that lot. Amazing, isn't it?
Other attractions include the Church of San Martino (with its leaning steeple); O Santa Barbara Oratory; it's the Museum and School of Lace Manufacturing, O Lace Museum (Address: Piazza Baldassarre Galuppi, 187, 30142 Burano, Venezia VE, Italy / Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm / Admission: 5 euros). In fact, the city is full of small shops that sell lace items, especially wonderful tablecloths. It was, without a doubt, the island that we liked the most.
TORCELLO: THE MOST RUSTIC ISLAND
Torcello is the oldest inhabited island in Venice, as it began to be populated shortly after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, and it was where the residents of Venice took refuge from attacks by the King of the Huns, Attila, during the Barbarian Invasions. The profile is totally different from the others, with very old building, ruins and a very rustic look. Torcello quickly grew in importance as a political and commercial center, as it benefited from maintaining close cultural and commercial ties with Constantinople. At salt flats became the basis of Torcello's economy, making its port rapidly develop into an important re-export market. However, the lagoon around the island of Torcello gradually became a swamp from the 12th century onwards, bringing malaria-carrying mosquitoes, which caused an epidemic that ravaged the island. A curiosity is that in 1948, one of the famous residents of Torcello was the American writer Ernest Hemingway, who was inspired by the island to write the book “Na Outra Margem, Entre as Árvores” (1950). The resident population on the island these days is around 10 people and a few restaurants!
Torcello has numerous palaces, 12 parishes and its 17 cloisters have almost completely disappeared. The only remaining medieval buildings form a set of four buildings. Today's main attraction is the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, founded in 639, with beautiful Byzantine mosaics. Other attractions include the Santa Fosca Church, in the form of a Greek cross, and the Museo Provinciale di Torcello housed in two 14th-century palaces, the Palazzo dell'Archivio and the Palazzo del Consiglio, which was once the seat of communal government. Other attractions are an old stone chair known as Throne of Attila and the Devil's Bridge, without handrail or railing.
HOW TO VISIT THE ISLANDS OF VENICE
- Vaporetto: Venice's most famous transport is a simple and quick alternative to visiting the islands. If you buy the 1-day “Turist Travel Card” ticket, you will pay 20 euros and you can go by boat to all the islands. Following the order of visits Venice -> Murano -> Burano -> Torcello, the route to Murano is 4.1; the one bound for Burano is 12; and the one to Torcello is 9. See more information here and buy your ticket in this link.
- Excursions: If you don't want to worry about transportation, you can choose excursions that take you to these islands, they last about 4 to 4 and a half hours and cost the same price as going by vaporetto. During the boat trip, the guide will give you a lot of information about the history of the islands. The length of stay in each of them is around 50 minutes (we have to confess that we would spend more time in Murano and less in Torcello). See some options:
- Boat Trip: Murano, Torcello and Burano Islands
- Venice Lagoon Tour: Murano and Burano
- Murano and Burano Islands Tour Departing Venice Half Day
- Venice: Murano and Burano Half Day Tour
- Venice Lagoon: Murano, Burano and Torcello Tour
- Venice: Half Day Lagoon Gems Tour in Murano and Burano
- Treasures of Venice Lagoon: 4 Hour Boat Tour (Islands of San Giorgio Maggiore and Lido)
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Read more about Italy:
- VENICE: Italy: What to do in Venice
- TURIN: Italy: Turin – The City of the Holy Shroud
- GENOA: Italy: What to do in Genoa – land of Christopher Columbus
- SAN GIMIGNANO: Italy: San Gimignano and its medieval towers in Tuscany
- FLORENCE: Italy: What to do in Florence
- POMEGRANATE: Italy: 10 must-see attractions in Rome
- PISA: Italy: An afternoon in Pisa