As discussed in our first post, our trip to Venice included visits to some of the surrounding islands. We had always heard about and seen pictures of glassblowing on Murano and the impossibly colorful homes on Burano and this trip gave us a chance to see these things for ourselves.
We actually visited Murano before we set foot on Venice proper, utilizing the convenient vaporetto (waterbus) system to get us there straight from the airport. Murano is small enough to walk from top to bottom in a few hours, so we did just that. The island’s canals and lanes emanate out from Campo Santo Stefano which serves as a useful center point from which to explore the seven small islands that make up the town. We stopped in nearby St. Pietro Martire Church before setting off to wander.
We also visited Museo del Vetro (“Museum of Glass,” which offers, in addition to a full history of glassmaking on Murano, a peaceful courtyard) and the nearby Church of Santa Maria and San Donato, but the best part of our visit was walking along the canals and poking our heads into random alleyways and squares. We filled up on spaghetti at La Perla ai Bisatei, set on one of those random squares, and some of the best gelato of our lives at Murano Gelateria Artigianale before grabbing a glass house souvenir from Fornace Mian, one of the many foundries on the island selling their wares as keepsakes.
Burano is even smaller than Murano, so there’s no reason not to walk along every canal and down every street. We visited as a day trip from Venice proper and had to work around a widespread transit strike that day. Fortunately, ACTV, the organization that manages Venice’s vaporetto services, offered strike schedules online so that we could plan around it. We were joined on the waterbus by a group of artists who we ended up running into all over the island; hopefully, our pictures give you a good idea of why Burano attracts as many artists as it does
Via Baldassarre Galuppi is the island’s main spine, but it’s away from this street that you can have Burano more or less to yourself. Visit as early as you can, as we did, to enjoy the relative lack of crowds; from noon onwards the number of visitors swells and the charm of the town is much harder to appreciate. Our favorite spots were the ends of Via Baldassarre Galuppi (the wooden bridge and bend of the canal on the northern end and Parrocchia San Martino Vescovo on the southern end) and the bridge spanning the north end of Fondamenta Pontinello (this spot, in particular, will forever hold a special place in our hearts). We wrapped our visit up with a souvenir from Casa Blu and spaghetti at Trattoria al Gatto Nero (make a reservation for canal side seating!).
We finished up our four-day weekend with such a different outlook on Venice than before. We used to tell people that Venice is overcrowded, chaotic, and packed with peddlers of cheap trinkets and fake luxury bags. While those things aren’t necessarily untrue, Venice just offers too much charm to dislike. It really is one of the, if not the, most unique cities in the world and the variety offered by other islands like Murano and Burano solidify it as a must-visit destination. Now the only question is when we’ll get to visit again.