Venice and its islands

: A Unique Lagoon

¥ No cars, but gondolas and other boats: this is Venice in brief. The city sits on a group of 118 small islands, connected by 150 channels.

No cars, but gondolas and other boats: this is Venice in brief. The city sits on a group of 118 small islands, connected by 150 channels and more than 400 bridges, offer an absolutely unique scenario. Surrounded by its suggestive lagoon, Venice is recognized by the Unesco as World Heritage Site; this city is not only one of the most beautiful of the world, it also has, without doubt, an inestimable artistic, cultural and environmental value. A place full of romance, forever immersed in a love-and-hate story with the sea, which, on the one hand, represents great part of the venetian beauty but, on the other hand, creates difficulties for the inhabitants of the city, especially when the water reaches the streets and inundating them. Venice is a treasure of the territory, full of fascinating art and architecture. San Marco’s Square, surrounding the romanic-byzantine masterpiece of the Basilica, the Palazzo Ducale, the Doge’s residence during the Serenissima Republic, the Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs), the Rialto’s area, and the Canal Grande with its richly decorated buildings are only few examples of the architectonic beauties of the city. Venice is also full of cultural aspects and traditions: it hosts the famous exihibition of the Biennale – presenting art, dance, cinema and theatre -, the symphonic season of the La Fenice Theatre, the Historical Regatta, the Redentore and the Carnival, one of the most renowned of the world. Except the Serenissima, the Lagoon also includes other fascinating islands. Among the major, the most famous are the Lido di Venezia (Venice’s Shore), hosting the celebrated Festival del Cinema; Torcello, the first island of the lagoon to be inhabited, even though it is almost abandoned nowadays; Burano, with its multicoloured houses and the traditional production of laces; Murano, famous all over the world for its artistic glass decorations; San Francesco del Deserto, suggestive place of meditation and prayer; San Lazzaro degli Armeni, once a lazaret, now it hosts a monastery with its extrordinary collection of treasures.


The ancient tradition of the lace production, the multicoloured houses and the boats coming back from the fishing are the most salient traits of Burano, picturesque island of the northern part of the venetian lagoon. The typical houses with their garish colours, which once represented the limits of each private property, now enchant the various tourists of the island. They say that once, upon a time, the fishers of the island used to choose flashy colours for their houses so that they could recognize it from far away also when they came back from fishing during the winter season, when the mist surrounds the entire landscape. The boats moored along the banks and channels actually show how fishing was, and still is, the main activity of the island, followed by the tradition of the production of rowboats, created in the squeri, typical artisanal workshops. The heart of Burano is Baldassarre Galoppi Square, built on a channel which was covered with earth, that includes the only church of the island, San Martino’s Church, where Tiepolo’s Crucifixionis preserved. Walking along the streets of Burano, it is still common to see some elderly women prove their expertise of laceworking, using the typical tombolo. A valued collection of this ancient art can be admired at the Lace Museum. The particular location of this island, during the early ‘900, also saw the prosperity of the so-called School of Burano, not actually a school but an important season for the modern venetian painting. Burano is thus an island of history and tradition which is really worth a visit. Before leaving the island, don’t miss the occasion to taste the bussolai, typical donut-shaped biscuits. 


Murano, a small island of the venetian lagoon, attracts tourists from all over the world to see the artistic creations of its glass masters, who warmly welcome visitors into their workshops. Also called the Fire Island, it presents various furnaces that were moved there from Venice long ago, in order to reduce the danger of fires breaking out in the city. The island of Murano is actually a group of minor islands, divided by channels and brooks and connected by bridges. Its original name, Amuranium, was given to the island by the refugees from Altino, escaped from the barbarian invasions, to remember a gate of their hometown. The secrets of glass-working, traditionally passed father to son and jealously kept by the most influential families, were protected through sanctions that prevented the people who didn’t belong to the Art from practising it. Murano’s Museum of Glass, in the Giusinian Palace, wonderfully describes the high specialization of the Art of Glassworking thanks to pieces of work from the Roman Times to our days. There are various shops and workshops everywhere on the island, where it is possible to buy artistic glass, murrine, necklaces and jewelry. Among the monuments worth mentioning is the Basilica of the Saints Maria and Donato, of the same times of that of San Marco. It wonderful porch apsis wholly preserves one of the most beautiful venetian-byzantine floors, with its colourful tiles of marble mosaic alternating to glass ones, produced in the most ancient furnaces of the island.