ISLAND TOUR IN VENICE
This is the story of sailing through the Adriatic Sea for 5 hours and covering 3 picturesque islands of Venice. The complete tour costs ~20€ per person, which in my opinion is a much better deal than a gondola ride costing 80€ for a 40 minutes ride! Travelers are given enough time in each island to roam about and explore the area on their own and get a taste of daily life in the region.
Online tickets for the island tour : Island Tour
The trip starts off with all the passengers excitedly boarding the boat from the Alilaguna ticket office in front of the Royal Gardens at Saint Mark’s Square. A little meet and greet with the co-passengers, the in-house boat guide takes control and introduces herself and her crew and briefs on the happenings of the day. We set forth for the journey.
We pass by various smaller islands and view points and our guide explains it all and within 30 minutes we arrive at our first stop – the glass factory of “Ferro & Lazzarini” in the island of Murano.
Murano, a small island town in Venice with about 5,000 inhabitants boasts of glass making as its main industry. International quality glass is manufactured here and exported all around the world. We walk into one such factory and witness the huge blast furnaces and lumps of glass being transformed into beautiful pieces of art. We participate in a session where the maestro demonstrates the making of a glass horse from scratch describing all the hard-work that goes behind it.
We then proceed to the store attached to the factory and walk through the mesmerizing display of glassware – crockery, chandeliers, souvenirs, jewelry and what not! I personally like collecting finger rings from different places and a ring made from original Murano glass was just the right addition to my collection!
A quick 5 minute walk from the store gets you to the Basilica of Santa Maria e Santa Donato. I recommend a swift 10 minute visit here. When you walk by this church you would not expect anything spectacular, but the interior steals the show. Well preserved unique mosaic tiles on the floor and ceiling and a huge golden dome makes for a delightful visual. Notice closely and you will see some bones dangling behind the altar. According to legend these are the bones of a fierce dragon that Santa Donato had killed.
Back in the tour boat and we advance towards Murano’s twin – Burano! This pretty little island has over 3,000 inhabitants and is best known for its lace-making. Most houses hang a small piece of lace on their door frame displaying pride in their artistry! Do drown yourselves in the many quaint little lace clothing stalls you will come across – they are adorable.
If there’s one thing you will not miss to notice about this town, its the lined colorful houses. The local committee assigns a color to each of the houses and that is how the town maintains its colorful vibe! Incase you end up with a color you do not fancy you need an approval from the committee before you change! And ofcourse most people have their own boat as its the primary mode of transportation. Boats are seen parked outside each house, contrast to the cars we are generally used to seeing!
Torcello is a tiny island basking amidst nature. The landing pier leads to a pathway that starts off with multiple restaurants. This is a nice pit stop to grab a quick bite. The seafood salad in this place is divine. A must-try!
Out from the restaurant, the path leads you to the Devil’s bridge. This bridge has an interesting story of how a Venetian girl fell in love with an Austrian boy during Austria’s dominance over Venice. The girls family did not accept and killed the boy. The girl then took help from a witch who struck a deal with a devil on this very bridge to get her boy back to life if the devil was given the soul of 1 recently dead child every year for the next 7 years on Christmas Eve. To this day people believe that a black cat comes to the bridge every Christmas Eve in the form of the devil. The bridge has no railing on either side.
Cathedral of Santa Maria Dell’Assunta is another good peaceful spot to visit and is just a 10 minutes walk from the boat stop. The interiors reminded me a lot of the Burano cathedral with the mosaic tiles and the golden dome. This is a really old church believed to have been built in the year 639.