Ever the explorer, I ventured out of Venice’s tourist area and to the islands of the Venetian Lagoon. I decided to take a guided tour in hopes of learning more about the islands.
The islands were wonderful.
The “guided” tour was a waste of money.
In fact, it’s false advertising to call it a tour. More appropriately, this was just a company using its big boat as a bus. The “tour guide” was uninterested in educating the group. She basically just told us the times to be back on the boat.
My advice — skip the organized tours, buy a day ticket, and catch the public transport boats to the islands. Trust me, you’ll enjoy your adventure more and get to explore the islands at your own pace.
Here’s some good information on Venice’s Public Transport system. The Lagoon lines connect the external lagoon archipelago, like the islands of Murano, Burano, Torcello, Sant’Erasmo, S. Servolo.
Now, back to the adventure.
First up —
The island of Murano is renowned for its long tradition of glass-making. Known as the “Glass Island,” it also houses one of the oldest churches in the lagoon — Basilica of Santa Maria and San Donato.
The tour featured a glass making demonstration at the Ferro & Lazzarini (Glass Factory). The glass factory was founded on 18th August 1929. The glass demonstration was the best part of the entire tour. The glass makers are very good and glad to see they take pride in their work and designs.
Here’s a short video of the demonstration:
While the demonstration was amazing, being marched into the factory’s gift shop was not a highlight. The shop’s prices are ridiculously expensive. I wasn’t about to pay €40 for earring studs? Outrageous.
Funny. I walked a few doors down to a shop that was selling the same glass items, made by the factory, for €10.
We only had one hour to visit Murano, and the glass factory and demonstration took up 40 minutes. I was able to buy some nice souvenirs and snap a few photos.
Next up —
Hard to believe this island was once the most important and populated island in the Venetian Lagoon. The island I visited felt more like a road trip rest stop than an important island. A six-eight minute walk from the boat to the centre of town, and you’ll arrive at what looks like a set from the movie The Godfather.
There wasn’t much to see and you’ll be better skipping Torcello and spending more time in Burano.
There were two highlights: the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, and the Devil’s Bridge.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta is the oldest building in the Venetian Lagoon. I didn’t have time to explore the inside. By the time I walked to the centre of town, it was time to turn around and head back to the boat.
The legend of the Devil’s Bridge says that a witch called upon the devil to bring an Austrian soldier back to life and be reunited with his young love. The devil made the witch promise to bring him the soul of a recently dead child on Christmas Eve for the next seven years.
The witch, of course, died soon after and didn’t fulfill her end of the bargain. Thus, every Christmas Eve, the devil comes to the Devil’s Bridge in Torcello in the guise of a black cat waiting for the souls he was promised.
Maybe the legend has something to do with the lack of population. Nah.
Next up —
This island is known for its lace work and brightly coloured homes. According to legend, the island’s homes are painted in vivid hues to help fishermen find their way in the fog.
With only 35 minutes to spend exploring this town, I snapped as many photos as possible. I visited a few shops, finally finding a souvenir watch my mom has been asking me to get her on one of my adventures.
Managed to make it back to the ‘bus’ boat with two minutes to spare.
All in all, the tour was just a taste. I must satisfy my appetite for exploration on my next Venetian vacation.
Next time, I’ll skip the “guided” tour, and explore on my own.