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  >  Europe   >  Murano, Burano and Torcello: a diy day trip
colored houses of burano
Inside the Venetian lagoon there are three islands, each of which deserves to be visited in total independence within a day: Torcello, Burano and Murano. I organized everything by myself, without participating in a guided excursion. I wanted to enjoy the islands in complete freedom and without time constraints.

So, on a warm spring day, I decided to start my excursion from the farthest island that is Torcello, departing from Piazzale Roma in Venice by taking the vaporetto nr. 4.2 to Fondamenta Nove and then a second that sails along line 12 and that allowed me to get to the island in about an hour.

TORCELLO

It’s one of the smallest islands in the lagoon. In the past it was rich, flourishing and the population reached 20,000 people while today it looks like a quiet and peaceful islandwith just 11 inhabitants. The first inhabited centres of the lagoon were born in this island when in 638 BC, the violent raids of the Huns pushed the inhabitants of the nearby city of Altino to flee to the lagoon islands; Here inTorcello they gave life to a new settlement that experienced a great urban and commercial development between the seventh and the tenth century, thanks to the production of wool and salt. Due to some climate changes that made life unhealthy and the waterways with little navigation for the debris brought by the Sile River, the population was forced to abandon the island and move in Venice.
Torcello island

Torcello square

Santa Fosca Church in Torcello

Santa Fosca Church

WHAT TO SEE

As soon as you get off the vaporetto, you must necessarily follow a small road that runs along a canal on one side, the other of the fields and some houses arriving in Piazza di Torcello, the ancient beating heart of the island.

BRIDGE OF THE DEVIL

The road passes by the famous Devil’s Bridge. A structure without parapets on low arches and with a few large steps on which there are some legends worthy of note: For example, it is said that the bridge is precisely the work of the Devil and he built it in a night but failed to finish it due to the arrival of dawn. A second legend speaks of a Venetian girl, who during the Austrian occupation of the North-East Italy, had fallen in love with an Austrian officer but her family were opposed to this relationship. As a result she was removed from the city and the officer was murdered. The desperate young woman then made a pact with the Devil through a Witch to get her beloved back. The Devil granted her request by demanding in return the souls of seven Christian children and gave the two women an appointment on the bridge where he made appear the soldier had taken the girl. The Witch was supposed to deliver the seven innocent souls on Christmas Eve but failed because she was killed, leaving the Devil in an eternal wait that still lasts today. It is believed that every December 24th the devil, in the form of a black cat, appears on the bridge waiting for the young souls.

THRONE OF ATTILA

On the left side of Piazza di Torcello you are in front of the “Carega Di Attila” but the name has nothing to do with the King of the Huns. This stone throne, presumably, was used by the Bishop of Torcello for judicial practices.

BASILICA SANTA MARIA ASSUNTA

On the right side of the square stands the Basilica of Santa Maria dell’Assunta, a Venetian-Byzantine building with three naves, founded in 639 A.D. Walking inside you will come from the two rows of nine columns with capitals of Corinthian type and golden Byzantine mosaics depicting the LastJudgment narrating several episodes of which Christ is the protagonist. You can also climb to the top of the eleventh century tower and admire the panorama of the lagoon. On the side of the church you can see the original closures of the windows consisting of large stone slabs.
(Opening hours from 10.30 to 18 from March to November and the cost is 5 euro full ticket)

CHURCH OF SANTA FOSCA

Next to the Basilica you can visit the Church of Santa Fosca built around the year 1000 AD, when the cult of the saints Fosca and Mura was established in Torcello following the arrival on the island of the remains of the two saints from Tunisia.
Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta

the interior of the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta in Torcello

mosaics inside the Basilica Santa Maria Assunta

mosaics of the Basilica of Torcello

MUSEUM OF TORCELLO

Another thing worth visiting is the small museum of Torcello, which contains many artefacts from Medieval, Latin and Byzantine times. It is located inside the Council Palace in Gothic style built in the thirteenth century to accommodate the government of the island and then the headquarters of the archive of the Bishop of Torcello. (Opening hours from 10.30 to 18 from March to October admission 3 Euro)

After visiting Torcello return to the vaporetto stop to move to nearby Burano just 5 minutes away and conveniently connected by vaporetto nr. 9.

BURANO

As for the nearby Torcello, also in this case the inhabitants of Altino to escape the barbarian invasions moved to Burano whose name was given by the Venetians in reference to one of the six gates of Altino facing north, direction in which the bora blows and called Boreana. Initially the first dwellings were built on stilts with walls made of intertwined reeds and plastered with mud and the floor in beaten earth was only subsequently built in brick.

WHAT TO SEE

Arriving by boat I found myself in a large tree-lined square where there is the statue of Remigio Barbaro, artist of theisland. From this point on the colours are the real protagonists with their shades of blue, red, pink and orange that are reflected in the green waters of the canals. With their energy that welcomes you totally while wandering through the various alleys or callette and small colourful houses no more than two or three floors high. Legend has it that each house has a different colouras fishermen returning from the sea in winter with the fog could recognize their homes. Today the inhabitants can decide the colour of their house and almost every year they repaint the facades to express their personality as the house of Bepi, where the owner has mixed various colours making his home multicoloured.

In short, Burano is an authentic poem for the eyes!

colored house of Burano

typical colored houses in Burano

colored house of Burano

typical house of Burano

CHURCH SAINT MARTIN BISHOP

I suggest you head to Galuppi Square where there is the only church on the island: The Church of San Martino Vescovo, whose present appearance was the result of a long series of restorations that took place several times between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries until the consecration on 29 October 1645. The church is dominated by its characteristic leaning bell tower due to a subsidence in the foundations and inside there is the “Crucifixion”, a youthful work of the artistGiambattista Tiepolo.

MUSEUM OF LACE

Also in the square you will find the Lace Museum(Opening hours from 10.30 to 17.00 from March to October full ticket 5 euro) where you can stop to closely observe this technique used by skilled master lace makers, unstable women and custodians of an incalculable handicraft heritage. The tradition of Lace is an ancient tradition handed down from mother to daughter from the beginning of the sixteenth century. When wives waited for their husbands returning from fishing to dampen the time began to work the lace. The technique used is with “stitch in the air”, created without supporting fabric and based on the originality of the designs. In Europe Burano lace- makers were considered the best to the point that they made objects intended for the ornament of clothes of Queens and Noblewomen. Nowadays the women who create these masterpieces are very few but their splendid creations still fill the windows and shelves of different shops on the island.

I BUSSOLAI

Do not leave the island without having tasted the“Bussolai”, biscuits made with flour, butter, eggs created by the wives of fishermen who brought large quantities during fishing at sea. They are very nutritious foods and well preserved.
After visiting alsoBurano take the vaporetto nr 12 towards Murano, the journey takes half an hour.

MURANO

Murano is the second largest island in the lagoon and consists of seven islands connected by many picturesque bridges and is crossed in the middle by the Grand Canal. I mean, a little Venice. The inhabitants of Altino also arrived in Murano to escape the barbarian invasions but the turning point for the island occurred in 1291 when the Doge decided to transfer the furnaces of the glassworks to prevent the continuous and dangerous fires that ravaged Venice. Shifting the production also could better preserve the secrets of glass processing. The city has always been included in maritime Venice but from 1171. It managed to get greater autonomy until 1275 when it was governed by its own podestà and could make its own laws. Even coin the famous “oselle” means commemorative medals in gold and silver that had the value of coins. The independence of Muranosurvived until 1923 when it was suppressed and the island merged administratively into thejurisdiction of Venice.
murano, the island of glass

Campo Santo Stefano in Murano

WHAT TO SEE

VISIT TO THE FURNACES

In Murano many artefacts were made with extraordinary techniques including that of crystal glass. For this reason I stopped in Navagero and then continued along the Rio dei Vetrai where there are many shops and glassworks; I recommend you pay attention to the purchase, because not all products are made in Murano. The best way to understand it is to visit the main furnaces (in some it is not necessary to book, in fact you can show up during working hours while in others, it is better to book). I witnessed the processing of Vetreria Gino Mazzuccato, whose production cycle starts from the sands. It uses different mixtures and mixed with different pigments and arrives at the melting of the glass. This takes place in ovens that reach a thousand degrees of temperature. The master glassmakers blow, shape, fold, join and cut with tools practically identical to those used at the birth of this type of production. A particular furnace is the one inside the former Santa Chiara Church, one of the oldest buildings in Murano. If you want to attend the demonstration the cost is 10 Euros.

MUSEUM OF GLASS

The Glass Museum, established at the end of the 19th century, is part of the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia and its purpose is to collect evidence of glass processing. The rarities include collections of a chandelier of 330 kg. The museum is open every day from 10.30 to 17.30 from 1 April to 31 October. The cost for the full ticket is 12 Euros while the reduced ticket is 9.50 Euros.

DUOMO SANTI MARIA AND DONATO

The Duomo Santi Maria e Donato is the main place of worship of the island. Founded perhaps in the middle of the seventh century and finished in 1140. The building was initially consecrated to Santa Maria but in 1125 was flanked by San Donato martyr, whose body is preserved inside the church. In addition, the Cathedral is known for the apse facing the water and presents a fusion of styles between Ravenna, Byzantine and Romanesque. Inside there is also the beautiful mosaic from the apse basin, with the Madonna immersed in a golden background.

CHURCH OF SAN PIETRO MARTIRE

The Church of San Pietro Martire was built in 1348 but a serious fire destroyed it and only in 1511 it was rebuilt as it appears today. The interior has a basilica plan with three naves and there are two works by Giovanni Bellini and the Baptism of Christ that many scholars attribute to Tiepolo.

THE LIGHTHOUSE OF MURANO

The lighthouse of Murano was initially built in wood and at the time of the Serenissima. It was converted into masonry and then finally in Istria marble. Although its position is internal, the light of its lantern points towards the Lido of Venice and facilitates the return of ships at night.

My day comes to an end I take the Vaporetto nr 12 for the new foundations and then Venice.

If you want to visit another island in the Venetian lagoon I recommend theisland of Pellestrina: where the rhythm is still marked by fishermen.

LOGISTICS

HOW TO GET:

  • You can tour all the islands with total freedom and you can choose the order in which to visit them. Keep in mind that Murano is the closest to Venice while Torcello is the furthest. The means to move between the various islands is the Vaporetto that starts from Piazzale Roma in Venice and if you do not have the Venice card the cost per route is 7.50 Euros and access to the service for 75 minutes so I recommend to make the daily ticket at the cost of 20 Euros. The ticket office is in Piazzale Roma which has cash machines available.
  • If you do not want to do it yourself you can rely on various organized tours including Venetoinside at a cost of 25 Euros.
  • In spring and summer it is full of people. I recommend visiting the islands in the early morning, not having to start in the middle of the day to make long queues to take the Vaporetti.
VAPORETTI
  • Line 12 runs from Venice Fondamenta Nove to Jesolo. If you want to visit the three islands from Venice just take the vaporetto towards Punta Sabbioni.
  • Line 4.2 starts from Venice Piazzale Roma and passes through Fondamenta Nove
  • Line 9 runs between Burano and Torcello
  • Line 3 starts from Piazzale Roma and goes to Murano.

WHERE TO EAT

on the island of Torcello:
on the island of Burano:
on the island of Murano:

WHERE TO SLEEP

on the island of Torcello

Comments:

  • 13 February 2021

    Oh I’d love to visit all of these places! I’ve had Burano on my radar for a while because I love how colourful it is! I’d love to spend a day just strolling the streets and soaking up the colours! I’d love to visit Murano too and get some glass! I haven’t heard of Torcello before but it sounds like such a fascinating place! I can’t wait until we can travel again so I can visit these amazing places! Thanks for the great guide!

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  • 14 February 2021

    I loved visiting these three islands. Each one has something special about it.

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  • Daphna

    14 February 2021

    Good tip about getting the daily ticket. I also prefer to DIY a lot of tours! Saving for when we make it to Italy!

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  • Kitti

    14 February 2021

    Oh Burano has been on my bucket list for a looong time. Just love the colourful houses. But I’ve actually never heard of Murano or Torcello before so I’m definitely adding these places to my list too. Would be a great weekend trip.

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  • Carley

    14 February 2021

    Lovely post! What incredible colors, it looks like it has so much character. Thanks for sharing!

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  • 14 February 2021

    I would love all three of these islands. So charming. I have been to Venice but didn’t take the short trips across the lagoon to visit these islands. The Byzantine mosaics in Torcello look gorgeous. The lace in Burano and the glass in Murano … just exquisite. Thanks fs for sharing.

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  • 15 February 2021

    Love this day trip! We did the exact same one when we visited Venice, and it was so much fun. Great guide!

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  • 15 February 2021

    All I can say is that you are a very brave young woman to have spent 11 months traveling in Southeast Asia solo. I have been to Murano but had not heard of the other places. Beautiful!

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