The islands north of Venice: we tell you everything
The visit of the Northern islands is different in many ways. Firstly, it allows you to discover another aspect of Venice: villages It is a place where you will find a lot of fishermen's houses, calmer canals, more airy and greener landscapes, and a more relaxed atmosphere... It feels good after several days of wandering through the narrow streets! Then, it reserves some surprises, like the coloured decorations of Burano, and some wonders, like the religious complex of Torcello. One can visit Burano, Torcello and Murano in one day, if one organizes oneself well, the whole being to leave early and to look at the schedules of departures as soon as one arrives on an island. You can start by going to Burano from the Fondamenta Nove (Cannaregio) pier, and from there make a stop at Torcello. If you have time, you can stop on your way back to Murano to visit a glass-making workshop.
If you also want to visit the San Michele cemetery, do so early in the day. In the evening, when you return, it will certainly be closed. But the Venetians don't appreciate the somewhat morbid curiosity that drives visitors to wander around "their" cemetery, and you can't blame them. We therefore suggest that you keep a low profile when visiting. Avoid, of course, the touts who work in the San Marco area and offer excursions They will take you to the shops where they have been commissioned to do so. They will simply take you to the shops where they are commissioned. So go by public boat, it's not very complicated.
It is one of the quietest places in the lagoon. You can easily recognize it from Cannaregio by the wall with its chapels. From there the high cypress trees rise up. It was once a prison, but now it houses a cemetery. It was built after the ban on burials in the historic centres. This strange place was known as the "island of the dead", and was a popular motif in symbolist and romantic painting. It is the only cemetery in the world where the dead can enter by boat. Funeral gondolas were used to transport the dead according to a specific ceremony. The priest stood behind the stern pulpit and the convoy glided along in an atmosphere of calm and contemplation. Motorboats have replaced the gondolas. Due to the limited space and the high cost, only wealthy families can bury their loved ones on this island.
Murano is the largest island in the lagoon. It is known for its glass industry, which dates back to the 11th century. It was transferred from Venice in the 13th century to this island to protect the secrets and fear of fire. The Great Council of Venice issued an order in the 14th century.
Murano's master glassmakers made hundreds of thousands of small coloured glass cubes for St Mark's Basilica. The special properties of Murano glass are reflected in the glass paste that was made from lagoon sand, which also includes plants with a high sodium content (samphire, algae and ferns). This is what makes Murano glass so special. The paste was coloured with metallic oxides (iron for yellow and nickel for purple). Here are the murrines, multicoloured glass rods that were stretched and then cut into small pieces.
These workshops, once flourishing, are now working in the tourist industry. They still produce original works, signed by great master glassmakers.
They are expensive and are intended for museums or collections. We do not recommend any of these glass workshops. The addresses are all almost identical: a guided tour of their forges with their glassblowers, followed by a visit to the exhibition and sales shop.
The island is well worth a walk. It is home to the fascinating glass museum (museo d'Arte Vetrario), and the beautiful church of Santa Maria e San Donato. Most tourists return to the centre of Venice in the late afternoon. The atmosphere is more authentic and the streets are quieter. This is the ideal time to walk around and check the return times of the last boats.