Every guidebook to Venice out there mentions three lagoon islands – usually sequenced as Murano, then Burano, then Torcello – as fairly unmissable targets on a Venetian itinerary. I hold a potentially unpopular opinion that only Burano rises to a must, while the other two are more of a special-interest kind. Nonetheless, on each of my visits to Venice, I have set aside a day to stop by all three. This time was no exception.
I did start with Burano, which is nothing short of a feast for the eyes. Everywhere you look, you see a burst of colors like in these perspectives. Captions are hardly necessary.
The bright palette originated in necessity. Distinct colors helped fishermen locate their houses in foggy conditions. I have always wondered why Burano is seemingly the only fishing village where such conditions had brought about such solution, but that certainly made the island unique.
There are also a couple of houses that stand alone in their decorative aspect, such as Casa di Gianfranco Rosso, also known as a “high-tide house” on account of marking the tide lines for recent floods…
… or Casa di Bepi Suà, which is a rare house painted in a non-solid color.
There are a couple of minor points of interest on Burano, such as the Church of San Martino Vescovo or the Museum of Lace. Most visitors are likely to ignore them in favor of focusing on the colorful palette.
The island of Torcello is firmly the opposite. There is nothing overly visually enchanting about it. Among the earliest settlements in the lagoon as far back as 452 CE, it is now very sparsely populated. There may be occasional seekers of surpassing quietude who would choose an albergo on Torcello for a stay, but practically every visitor to the island would come here for a short visit to see a quartet of sights clustered around Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta.
The main church is in the background on the left. It was built in the 7th century and nowadays appears in a somewhat neglected state. Its nave mosaics, dating from the 11th century, are nonetheless well worth seeing. Unfortunately, photography is not allowed inside the church (and I am rarely one to disregard such an edict).
On the right in the above perspective is the 12th-century church of Santa Fosca, which merits a quick look.
Then, there is the Municipal Museum of Torcello, which charts the history of the settlement. I have never taken the time to visit it, including this time around. However, there is a number of freely-accessible archaeological exhibits right on the “village green” in front of the museum. For reasons that I do not exactly know, the stone chair on the left of the next picture is considered to be a top attraction. It is known as the Attila’s Throne, even though it has nothing to do with the king of Huns and was most likely a bishop’s chair.
The last of the quartet of attractions on Torcello is the campanile which offers nice views around the northern lagoon.
And this is Burano as seen from here.
We can also see all the way to Venice, almost 9 kilometers away in a direct line.
The walk between the village and the only vaporetto stop on Torcello takes you by the Devil’s Bridge, a crossing without any parapets.
Traversing the lagoon towards Murano, the route of the water bus takes us by the neglected island of Madonna del Monte, where the ruins of an early 18th-century church offer a visual highlight. Far in the back, the leaning tower of San Martino Vescovo marks receding Burano.
Murano is the largest of the three featured islands and the closest to Venice. We are now only about a mile away in a direct line from Fondamenta Nove. (The tower seen on the very left is the campanile of Madonna dell’Orto in Canareggio.) The Murano lighthouse is relatively new, built in 1934, and is fully operational.
Perspectives of Murano have an obvious resemblance to Venice proper although nowhere near as photogenic. There are a few minor highlights in Torre dell’Orologio, or church of San Pietro Martire, or Palazzo da Mula, or the architectural gem of the island in Basilica dei Santi Maria e Donato.
Murano, of course, is the center of Venice’s glass industry, and you more likely than not would come here to see a glassblowing demonstration, peruse various glass-artisan shops, and possibly step inside the Museum of Glass.
A couple of parting shots. The first, from just north of the cemetery island of San Michele, with the church and the belltower of San Michele in Isola in the foreground, and the aforementioned campanile of Madonna dell’Orto in the background.
And the last look at Venice from a distance, for which we are jumping again to a point further north in the lagoon.
This is the wrap for Venice. There is one day trip that I still need to cover, but to La Serenissima, we are saying A presto! Ciao!