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  • Writer's picturetruemantravels

An Accidental Venetian Lagoon Tour

Updated: Mar 14, 2023

A lot of people will tell you that you only need a spend a day or two in the actual city of Venice, because there’s not that much to do there. While I strongly disagree because I could spend a month in Venice just enjoying its tranquility, many travellers are looking for ways to venture off the island during their stay.


A great way to spend a day outside the city is to visit the nearby islands of the Venetian Lagoon. Some of the most commonly visited by tourists are Murano, Burano and Torcello. Murano is famous for its glass production, Burano is famous for its leather and Torcello...well I’ll get to that.


A short boat ride away, you can travel over on a Vaporetto (water bus), take a water taxi or book a tour. I’d strongly recommend taking the water bus and exploring the islands at your own pace, rather than being rushed by a tour guide.


Canals Of Burano

Intent on purchasing a ticket for a Vaporetto, we bought what we thought was a round trip ticket to all three islands down by the docks in St. Mark’s square, but as it turned out this was actually a ticket for a guided tour around all three islands in an afternoon with a tour of a glass factory in Murano. With our precious euros already gone, we had little choice but to board the tour boat and follow along at what I would call an absurdly fast pace. The hour I spent on Murano and Burano was not enough to fully appreciate everything the islands had to offer; the hour at Torcello was far too long. So if you can, going at your own speed will let you enjoy these places to the fullest. Taking a water bus should only cost you 7.50 euros, whereas as a water taxi is significantly more (up to 130 euros). For a guided tour, we spent 20 euros each which took us to all three islands and back to Venice.


Murano


Photo Credit: @raminrambo

To be really honest, Murano was possibly the least memorable of the three islands, but this was also due to the short amount of time I had to explore it. It’s free from the mass tourism that plagues Venice, and as a result allows a peaceful stroll among the canals and quaint European buildings. Many shops display the ornate glass trinkets that the island is so famous for and if you’re interested in how they’re made, you can tour a glass factory and even purchase some of the products while inside.


Burano


Photo Credit: @raminrambo

Burano was by far my favourite of the three islands, and while the time there was again, too short, it made a lasting impression on my heart. As we exited the tour boat the guide mentioned to us that Burano was famous for its cookies and that we needed to make sure we tried one. Burano’s Bussolà is a donut shaped butter cookie, also with an “S” shaped variation called a Burano Esse. Made from butter, eggs, sugar and flour, these cookies have great durability and are said to have been given to fisherman by their wives when they were setting out on long journeys in case they needed sustenance along the way. I can confirm they are delicious, particularly the pistachio flavour.


Burano is most recognizable for its colourful homes, which legend states were painted so brightly so that they might guide fisherman home on a foggy night.


Torcello


Photo Credit: @raminrambo

Decidedly the most underwhelming of the Venetian Lagoon’s islands, Torcello has a population of less than 30 people despite being only 5 minutes from Burano by boat. Those who live on the island reside in farmhouses and rely on tourism for their income. Aside from a small street side restaurant, the majority of other people we saw wandering the streets here were all tourists brought over on tours like myself.


The main feature of Torcello is the Ponte del Diavolo or “Devil’s Bridge”. Though it looks classically charming, its story is dark. According to the myth, a young Venetian woman fell in love with an Austrian officer during the invasion, and after hearing news that he had died, she enlisted the services of a witch to bring him back to her. The witch was to do this through a deal with the devil; the Austrian man in exchange for the souls of seven children, delivered on Christmas Eve. The Venetian woman crossed the bridge in ceremony, and the devil produced her lover. But the witch died before she could deliver the souls of the children, completing her side of the deal.


It is said that every year on December the 24th, the devil lurks around the bridge in the form of a black cat waiting for the souls that were meant to be his.



Burano Esse

It’s absolutely worth spending a day exploring these islands and getting a glimpse of Venetian life outside the city of Venice. I’d recommend spending the most time in Burano as there’s plenty to see and it’s very visually pleasing even just to walk around and take in the sights there. Have you travelled to any other islands in the Venetian Lagoon not mentioned here? Let me know at robynnetruetravels@gmail.com, send me a DM on Instagram @truemantravels or leave a comment below - I’d love to go back and explore more in the future!

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