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La Dolce Vita (Part 6) Murano and Burano


(The canals of Murano)


Venice is just an “island community” (actually it’s an amalgamation of 100 smaller islands) in the shallow brackish waters of the Laguna Veneta.  There are several other island communities in this large (>200 square mile) lagoon that can be comfortably visited in an enjoyable day trip from Venice, all easily accessible by vaporetto.   Settlers fled to these islands when the barbarians invaded Italy over 1500 years ago because the islands were safe from these marauders and sheltered from the strong winds and waves of the Adriatic Sea.



(Fire Watch Tower, Murano) 



 Murano is best known for its glass factories and the wondrous assortment of beautiful glass products they generate.  The island itself was initially developed in the 13th century because of the danger of fire from the hot furnaces required to smelt glass; to protect Venice, glass production was restricted to Murano.  Hundreds of years later glass production is still synonymous with the island and you can watch glass being blown in many small factories around the town (they offer a short “free tour” followed by a heavy sales pitch).  These products are also available in dozens of shops in Murano and Venice and include jewelery, plates, glasses, vases, wine decanters — the assortment is astounding and the color and quality of the glass is truly wonderful!



(Grand Canal, Murano)


The island features a small Glass Museum, the highlight of which was a nice collection of ancient Roman era glass and antique equipment used to throw glass.  The museum also features exhibits of the best of Venetian glass making; you can also see many great glass art sculptings throughout the city so if your time is limited this is a museum you could skip. Just north of the Glass Museum is the dominant church on the island, Santa Maria e San Donato Church, a 12th century church featuring beautiful inlaid floors and mosaics.



(Antique glass at the Murano Glass Museum)


Murano is much less heavily touristed than Venice and features large residential areas where people actually live and children play (unlike most of Venice which is dominated by tourists and the industries that support them).  I found this aspect of Murano as appealing as the glass production on the island.



(The colorful canals of Burano) 


 Burano is a small island community of a few thousand people, historically a sleepy fishing village, best known for its lovely lace and the colorful pastel houses that line its canals.  Its church tower is a dominant landmark and, like the leaning tower of Pisa, demonstrates a 5 degree tilt.  While Burano is popular with tourists during the day, at night the town shuts down, with the exception of a few restaurants.  For those who would like to “get away”, a few nights might be just the ticket.



(Torcello Cathedral and it's tower) 



 Over a millennium ago, this was the first island that developed in the lagoon, and while mostly deserted and overgrown by shrubs, this island is home to Santa Maria Assunta church, the oldest church in the lagoon.   A church on this site dates to the 7th century, although little remains of the original structure.  There is a vaporetto that runs regularly between Burano and Torcello, a fairly quick ride, followed by a walk along a canal towards the church complex (comprised of the church, bell tower, sacristy and small museum).  The church is memorable for its old mosaics and it’s a nice one hour excursion.  The bell-tower offers great views of the surrounding lagoon, although it was closed for refurbishing when we visited. 



 For an extended high resolution slide show of Murano and Burano, please go to this link.  The slide show is at the bottom of the post.  Click on the right sided icon of the slideshow's toolbar for full screen enlargements.






Images (25)
  • Grand Canal of Murano: The buildings lining this Grand Canal are much less elegant than those of Venice. Murano is more of a residential area and less touristed than Venice itself. The restaurant to the right was where we had lunch; great food with a great view!
  • Grand Canal of Murano
  • Murano -- Via Fondamenta Vetrai
  • Murano -- Glass Museum: Display of old Roman glass -- especially enjoy the lovely patina!
  • Murano -- Exterior, view from Glass Museum
  • Murano -- Santa Maria e San Donato Church: 12th century church, the nicest on this island community
  • Bellltower, Santa Maria e San Donato Church
  • Murano -- Fire Watch Tower: An usual prickly glass sculpture at the base.
  • Murano Glass Factory: One of many such factories you can visit in Murano
  • Murano -- residential lane
  • Burano -- View from Vaporetto
  • Burano -- View from Vaporetto
  • Burano -- Lace shop
  • Burano -- Canals at dusk: The island is well know for it's colorful homes
  • Burano -- Canals at dusk
  • Burano -- Canals at dusk
  • Burano -- Leaning church tower: The tilt of the belltower is equivalent to the leaning tower of Pisa.
  • Burano -- departing view
  • Torcello -- canal: When you leave the vaparetto you walk along a canal towards the old church
  • Torcello -- canal
  • Torcello -- Vendors and church
  • Torcello -- Church
  • Torcello -- Church
  • Torcello -- Hotel
  • Torcello -- Church: his is the oldest church in the lagoon, parts of it over 1000 years old. The belltower was being refurbished (R)

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

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Dr. Fumblefinger,


Nice slideshow with great pics. We were in Venice in 2012 for 6 or 7 days and made an excursion to Burano as a day trip. The first thing we noticed was that tourism has reached the tiny island. There was a new docking station for the vaporetti and all sorts of kiosks selling the usual stuff.


The first time we were there was in 2008 and it was a sleepy island that time seemed to forget. In fact, we came across four elderly ladies sitting on a bench gabbing and knitting. I asked if I could take a pic because they reminded me of my mother and they all happily agreed.


The homes are quite colorful and unique. The canals are nice to stroll along and the place is still somewhat off of the beaten track. 


On our way back on the vaporetto my wife took the only available seat and I figured that I would just stand until a seat became available. A French gentleman had his wife sit on his lap and gave me her seat, which was across from my wife. He spoke enough Italian that we gabbed the whole way back to Nove Fondementa in Venice. Time seemed to whiz by as we talked about France, the USA, our jobs, and whatever. It made for a great travel experience and memory.

Buon viaggio,

Great memories, rbciao!  I'd like to head back to Burano some day, maybe spend 2-3 days there, just kicking back and enjoying the ambiance.  


We were there in May and it was not at all heavily touristed at that time, though certainly the shops were there to lighten the load of your Euro heavy wallet!  Their lace was truly beautiful and my wife just couldn't resist!

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

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