Exploring the Magical Islands of Venice, Italy

Many people are drawn to Venice to sail the gondola along the meandering canals, or to discover the renown cultural landmarks, such as Saint Mark’s Basilica and Galleria dell’Accademia. However, if you are a more intrepid tourist, you may wish to explore a little further, and visit some of the fascinating lagoon islands. Here’s a sample of the top islands to see, if your curiosity about Venice extends beyond the city.

Torcello Island

The island of Torcello is among Venice Lagoon’s most popular islands, so after you have arranged your boat transfer from Venice airport to your hotel, this might be a good island to begin with. The island’s main attraction is Santa Maria Dell’Assunta Cathedral, which was built in 639AD. Inside this cathedral, you will discover some striking mosaics from Byzantine times, which date back to the eleventh and thirteenth centuries. These mosaics alone are worth making the journey for. The cathedral is just a ten minute stroll away, once you have arrived at the island by boat. After visiting the cathedral, you can walk along some of the paths, or explore other attractions like Torcello Museum and the Santa Fosca Church.

Murano Island

After catching your boat transfer from Venice airport, and preparing yourself for some sightseeing, you may wish to head to the island of Murano. This island is also very popular due, in no small part, to the main tourist attraction here – observing glass-blowing in action.

Glass-blowing has been done on Murano for hundreds of years, so it is a long held tradition here. Actually, every glass maker in Venice lived on Murano at some point, to guard their trade secrets. You can observe a live demonstration, and there are several glass factories available for you to tour. In addition to the glass-making demonstrations, you can visit the pleasant restaurants, or enjoy some nice walks on this tranquil island.

Lido Island

Lido is probably the most well-known out of all of the islands, as it hosts the Venice Film Festival every year in September or August. You will pass this island on your boat taxi, while you are travelling to your hotel from Venice airport.

The Venice festival is among the world’s most prestigious showbiz events, and every year top directors and film stars from across the planet come here for the film premières, and for the opportunity to win the big award – the Leone d’Oro. Nicknamed “The Golden Island” because of its’ lengthy sandy beaches, Lido is also the location of the Grand Hotel des Bains – which was the setting for the Thomas Mann novel, “Death in Venice”.

If you just restrict yourself to the city while you are sightseeing in Venice, you will be missing out on a whole range of other great attractions. Once you have taken your boat taxi from Venice airport and arrived at your hotel, try to catch another boat out to at least 1 of the islands above, to discover more of this picturesque area.

Five Things not to Miss in Venice…

  1. Canal Grande – A boat ride along this central waterway will give you a first class view of colourful Venetian buildings and stately homes, along with some of the most recognisable landmarks in the city.
  2. Piazza San Marco – Lined with fantastic (albeit pricey) restaurants and cafés, this square is an ideal location to relax with a coffee, and take in the beautiful scenery of traditional Venetian architecture and the lagoon beyond.
  3. Ca’Rezzonico – Restored during 2001, this fascinating building houses possibly the finest museum in the city, which gives visitors a revealing insight into daily life in grand Venetian homes, towards the end of the Venetian Republic era.
  4. Doge’s Palace – This amazingly lavish Gothic-Renaissance building used to be the official home of Venetian dukes, or “doges”, who ran the city for more than 1000 years.
  5. Peggy Guggenheim Museum – The stunning collection of  sculpture and painting in this renown Venetian museum, is generally regarded as the most extensive and significant modern art collection on the planet. The museum is a splendid eighteenth century palazzo situated directly on the Grand Canal’s banks, and it has a remarkably quiet sculpture garden inside.

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Image Credits

The following photos in this post have been licensed under Creative Commons Share Alike 2.0:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/proimos/3410353779/sizes/m/ – Some rights reserved by Alex E. Proimos

http://www.flickr.com/photos/grisha_21/2853496589/sizes/m/ – Some rights reserved by grisha_21

http://www.flickr.com/photos/argenberg/322834501/sizes/n/ – Some rights reserved by Argenberg

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