Discover the Belle Isole of Venice

Venice, Italy
Venice, Italy

Discover the Belle Isole of Venice

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Europe

There’s no denying Venice’s beauty. With more than 150 canals snaking their way through the heart of the main island of Venice, it’s easy to get lost wandering over bridges and along the waterways. However, the Veneto district is comprised of more than 120 small islands. Head to “belle isole,” or beautiful islands surrounding Venice. Here are four favorites to check out.

Murano. Located right off the city’s coast, Murano is a short 10-minute vaporetto (water taxi) ride across the lagoon. Known for producing exquisite glass, the glassmaking and glassblowing techniques perfected in Murano date back to the late 13th century. Visitors can stop in the Museo del Vetro to see examples of glass or stop by one of the local glassmakers to see it firsthand. Be sure to stroll along the Grand Canal running through the island, the size of which rivals the one found in Venice.

Sant’Erasmo. East of Murano and approximately 35 minutes from Venice via vaporetto is Sant’Erasmo. This peaceful and serene island is opposite in feel to its glamorous counterpart. Rows and rows of crops and vegetables stretch on the horizon, most bound for the city of Venice. This agricultural hub is home to “carciofi violetti,” a tender and delicate purple artichoke. Sant’Erasmo is the perfect place to ditch the urban jungle for a few hours.

San Servolo. For those who have a fascination with dark history or slightly creepy spots, head to San Servolo. This island is a 20-minute vaporetto ride southeast of Venice. Once home to a Benedictine monastery, the building was transformed into a military hospital and became one of Italy’s most notorious psychiatric asylums. Today, the former institution is a museum and is also home to Venice International University.

Burano. A little further from Venice than the islands mentioned above, Burano is approximately 30 to 40 minutes north of the city by vaporetto. This lace-making haven is a myriad of kaleidoscopic-colored buildings lining the canals. The intricate lace patterns and designs date back centuries and are often painstakingly crafted by needlepoint. Visitors can wander the canals, view a live demonstration of lace making or sit under the shade with creamy gelato or butter cookies, a local specialty.

It’s easy to spend most of your time walking along the dreamy canals of Venice; however, if you have a day or two for adventure, these outer islands are well worth a visit.

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