If you are heading, or thinking about heading to Venice for the weekend, you are going to want to take a day trip to the three islands surrounding it, as they are all individually a treat for the eyes, but collectively offer an insight into how this great city has developed over the centuries.
Considering that Murano, Burano and Torcello are all on the same vaporetto line you will only need to spend an hour or two on each – great for a fantastic day away.
The waterbus route
There is only one vaporetto that you need to think about: the number 12. Leaving from Fondamenta Nuove on the north side of the city, the waterbus initially goes to Murano (with a journey time of about eight minutes), and then onto Burano (taking a further 30 minutes) and Torcello (an extra five minutes).
Because it loops around, it doesn’t matter whether you take the initial 45-minute journey all the way to Torcello first and then stop off on your way back, or vice versa, but do note that Murano’s trade tends to rely on glassware stores, which close in the late afternoon, so you may want to stop here first on your way to Torcello.
It will be worth your while to get a 12-hour ticket pass if you have not already bought one for the rest of your trip, as it will be four boat trips in total you will be taking.
Murano – a heart of glass
Glassware is hardly the most exciting of subjects, but somehow this island turns the art of glassmaking into both a spectacle and a buyer’s delight. Murano is world renowned for it’s glassware, whether it be ceramic plates, crystal glasses or semi-opaque statues, ranging from parrots to oriental Chinese figures.
When you get off the vaporetto, you’ll soon be reminded of what Murano is all about. On your right, you will see a glass garden, a dazzling spectacle of greens and reds, while a further stroll inland will present you with a magnificent statue of a glass woman. Turning right, once you reach the canal, you will soon realise that the entire island is like a mini-Venice, with it’s intricate waterways, kitsch stores and spectacular bridges. Along the way, you will come across many a glassware store, an assault on your senses, as glittering chandeliers hang from ceilings and a maze of glass objects leaves you confused. Undoubtedly, the highlight of Murano is the breathtaking glass Blue Star, located in the centre of the island and juxtaposed against a historic clock tower and traditional church. Be sure to cross the main canal, with it’s enormous bridge, and check out the glass museum and beautiful church on the other side.
Burano – an explosion of colour
If you have ever wondered what walking through Whoville must be like, Burano pretty much sums it up. Going beyond just being an amusing rhyme to the former island, Burano looks like a child has been allowed to go wild with their paintbox.
Wandering around here, you will soon realise that you are literally just walking around people’s houses, but with each one having been painted a vividly different colour, the experience is hypnotic to say the least. Reds, greens and yellows explode in a majestic fashion, and you will soon find yourself lost in a dizzying spell of technicolour – that, or just simply lost in these winding streets.
Torcello – a step into Venice’s past
While this little gem is sparsely populated, it is actually the oldest continuously inhabited region of Venice. This is probably the closest you will get to a nature reserve in Venice, and you will initially take what seems like an extremely long walk along the canal, accompanied by the sound of crickets and grasshoppers chirruping in the air. Along the way, you will come across the diavolo bridge, a striking landmark that is only three bricks thick, before you eventually get to the historical centre.
Undoubtedly, the highlight here is the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. While you will need to pay to get in, it’s worth it, as just like St Mark’s Basilica, this is a mosaic extravaganza, depicting the life of Christ and his 12 disciples. The church next door may not be as impressive in size and stature, but it has a ‘local’ feel that is sure to remain with you for some time.
Linking both these landmarks are multiple ruins of past settlements, and an archaeological museum that boasts a wide array of artefacts found on the isle. Walking past these, you will end up on a dusty pathway that takes you into the unknown, with bushy hedges and reed-lined canals – the most green space you are sure to see in your whole trip to Venice – perfect for those who want to explore off the beaten track.
The entire excursion is sure to take around six hours, making this a perfect way to spend a day with the family, doing something slightly different. Three islands, one vaporetto – what else could you ask for?
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