Venice is a magical place. It is a city that lets your imagination run wild. Just mentioning the name conjures up images of canals and waterways. It is one of the most memorable cities in Europe. The center of Venice is a maze of waterways and plazas, famous palaces, and of course, St Marks Square. For me, it quickly became a priority to leave St Marks and abandon the crowds. While searching for a more authentic side to Venice, I “discovered” these two islands and found a beautiful place to fall in love with. Murano is known for its famous glass blowing and Burano is known for lace textiles and colourfully decorated buildings.
As a photographer visiting Venice, it can quickly become overwhelming. There are perfectly framed scenes at every turn. Many of the islands have a specialty or distinct flair; there is a cemetery island and some are home to monasteries or churches. We shared several pictures from San Giorgio Maggiore Island, with views of the grand canal and St Marks Square. There are many things to explore in Venice, and the further off the beaten track you go the more authentic an experience you can have. Despite the rhyming names, Murano and Burano couldn’t be any more different. Each one had a charm. As a result, you can’t see one without the other. It’s easy to take a ferry across the lagoon to visit these two islands.
There is plenty of things to do in Venice. While it was quite easy to be impressed by “big” attractions located close to St Marks and along the Grand Canal, Murano and Burano was where I fell in love with Venice.
What makes the islands of Burano & Murano so amazing?
Most of the wealth and prestige of Venice came about because of the efforts of the “other” islands like these two.The palaces and the expensive homes in the center of the city where the aristocrats lived. Both of these islands are known for their handicrafts. The lace from Murano and the glass work from Burano are sold for a premium around the world. It is a lasting legacy.
Murano is best known for its glass blowing, which has been it’s trade of choice since the 1200s. The island was home to some of the most prestigious glass blowers and these craftsmen were given a high status is society. As a result, their legend spread across the continent. For a long time the secret of crystal or glass blowing remained on the island before being spread to the rest of Europe in the 16th century. Work created here is protected as a cultural asset under the Vetro Artistico Murano title.
Burano is a bit further away, but because of the incredible water based transit system, it is easy to get around. It is quite famous because of the beautifully coloured buildings which have made this worth the trip to the northern reaches of the city. Much like Murano, it had an important role in society, and the island became a known producer of lace. Today there are many artists who come to live amongst the brightly coloured homes. The colour palate is carefully protected, and as a result, owners have to write to the government for permission before painting.
Where are Murano & Burano and how do you get there?
Venice has been a tourist draw for over 200 years since it was included on the “Grand Tour” in the 1800s. Today, it is estimated that Venice hosts 60,000 daily visitors, and most of these big crowds correspond to the arriving cruise ships. Venice is home to over 400 bridges which connect the 118 islands. The shallow lagoon was formed by the rivers Piave and Po. These two islands are located just a little bit to the north – Murano (1.5 km) and Burano (7 km) – from the main islands.
Understanding the metro system in Venice is a challenge. Instead of busses or subways, Venice has boats. These aren’t the gondolas which you might pay 200 Euros for a short trip, this is the public transit system. There are many islands connected by many routes, but once you figure out how to get around, circle these two islands on your map ASAP.
Venice was first settled in the 10th Century BC and became a cultural and financial center during the middle ages. It has been an important city for over 1000 years and was on the leading edge of the renaissance. These two “other” islands might be a little bit out of the way, but both of them have a unique charm worth visiting. You won’t regret it.