Whilst considering Venice as a pitstop for the family trip, many of my friends told me that the city gets pretty dead after a while - "All the canals look pretty, but they look the same after 6 hours", "Just stay there for 24 hours and fly out"....but I beg to differ because there was so much to see and explore! Off for some island hopping after a few days of gallivanting about the mainland, and while it was a heavy price tag for a vaporetto island hop ticket, it was well worth the euros ♥ Depending on the type of ticket you purchase, you get to hop from island to island, some of which may be extremely small. Murano, for glassblowing; and Burano, peaceful rows of picturesque houses are good destinations to begin with. The other islands such as Torcello (nature reserve), San Michelle (cemetries) and Sant'Erasmo (Grand Garden of Venice) are quite quiet and serve as off the beaten tracks.
Similar to mainland Venice, Murano island is a series of 7 islands linked together by bridges, separated by 8 channels. It is iconic for its reputation for glassmaking craft, which dates back to the Venetian Republic times in 1291 where all glassmakers had to abandon mainland for Murano by orders of the rulers. This was done out of fear of fire hazards destroying the wooden buildings of the city. Hence, being an independent comune once, it is now a frazione of the comune of Venice. The trade of glassblowing was an elite pursuit dominated by Venetian Republic craftsmen, where they had a monopoly on quality glassmaking for centuries. However, this has since dwindled because of modern times and also because many glassmakers in Europe has since discovered new techniques and trends, which quickly overtook the dying trade.
Now, Murano glassmakers are still special and renowned for their glass mirrors, and intricate technologies for crystalline glass, enameled glass aventurine, multicoloured glass and milk glass, just to name a few off the list. Do be cautious of many souvenir stores passing off counterfeit glass as real Murano glass - check for the "Vetro Murano Artistico" trademark decal on the windows of authentic sellers of Murano glass. The best time to visit the glassblowing and making activities is in the morning, and most showcases finish by early afternoon.
Admittedly, there were not many attractive lunch options on the island - hence I advise doing some research on food or pack some lunch if you intend to visit Murano. Walking around, you could explore the Basilica del Santa Maria e San Donato (said to house the bones of the dragon slain), Church di San Pietro Martire (artworks by Bellini), Campo Santo Stefano 19th century clock tower, Palazzo Da Mula which has some lunch options and features Gothic architectural panels and windows from the 12th century. Scattered across the island are glass factories, which are happy to provide glassblowing demonstrations; and the Glass museum which offers a historical overview of Venetian glassmaking.
The island of Burano can easily be one of the cheeriest place on earth, with the picturesque canal lined with a wide spectrum of bright coloured houses being a visual treat for the eyes. Arising from the root name of "Porta Boreana" which means the northern door of the city, Burano seems like Italy's little piece of tropical paradise.
Burano is an anarchipelago of 4 islands linked by bridges, and is famous for its brightly coloured houses and artisan lacework. In fact, the homes lined along the canal follow a designated colour patterns from back in the Venetian times - the government will advise you on certain colours that you are allowed to paint your territory with (but myths has it that it was the fishermen who first painted their houses in such vivid colours so that they could spot them even when they were out at sea fishing).
Visit Galuppi, Burano's mains street which houses souvenirs, cafes, restaurants and bars. For an island part of Venice, it was relatively tranquil and quiet as compared to the mainland. This was a refreshing change ♥
Artisan lacemaking is also one of Burano's highlights since the 14th century, in the era where Leonardo da Vinci reportedly visited to gather cloth for the altar at Duomi di Milano. Many lacemaker shops are scattered across the streets.
Exploring further inland, you'll meet with the oblique bell tower of the 15th century San Martino church - which is surrounded by elderly ladies sitting out on their white plastic chairs in the sun outside their houses, embroidering or chatting in circles amongst themselves. Children are left free to run or cycle around, laughing through the games they play. Love the carefree and serene environment, coupled with the almost perfect flower beds perched with brightly coloured fresh flowers....it's almost like paradise on earth.
Headed back to St. Mark's square and sat in the middle of the piazza equipped with a warm mat, chips and cheap Italian grocery wine to seal the last night with some classical orchestrated music - therapeutic much ♥ We also bought some swirling light sticks that we could propel high up into the air and started fooling around with it.
And not to mention how some peddlers threw roses at me and R....and then trying to convince R to pay over 20 euros for them as a form of romantic gesture, hahaha.
More visual treats of Venice mainland in the day: Gelato and Museums.
Museums such as the San Giorgio dei Greci and the Gallerie dell'Accademia was worth seeing, the latter of which houses a rich collection of Venetian paintings ranging from 14th to 18th centuries, such as Veneziao, Girogione, Titian, Tiepolo and Bellini, as well as Venetian heritage treasures. The Peggy Guggenheim collection may also be worth seeing, as it forms one of Italy's most important museum collections for modern art by American socialite Peggy Guggenheim, a famous patron of the arts.
Also stumbled into Universita Ca Foscari and its ad-hoc art gallery exhibition.
And found the only MacDonalds existing in the city.
Venice is such an unpredictable city, and I'm glad we explored most of it by foot. Staying in a Venetian apartment was quite an experience, for a small city island like Venice has designated times for garbage collection (failing which, you cannot place it outside and must wait for the next day's) as garbage is then transported out of the island in boats for disposal. Don't even get me talking about going through narrow alley with a garbage collector trolley coming your way, definitely not something up my alley (pun intended). It may be a small place, but it definitely packed a punch with the iconic architecture and quirky nuances. Boots or Wellies delivery for canal flooding just a phone call away anyone?
Ciao Venezia, you've been a beautiful city to visit ♥