Venice is one of the most beautiful and particular cities in the world, full of curiosities, which has one of its main characteristics in the fact of being formed by an archipelago of over 100 islands. Of different sizes and with their own history and culture, these islands form a unique spectacle in the world. Let’s find out together which are the most beautiful islands to admire during a trip to Venice.
Giudecca, the island of PalladioOriginally called “Spina Longa” because of its herringbone form, it’s the largest island and at the same time the closest to Venice, separated by the wide and deep Giudecca Canal. The name comes from the expression Jews, because of the Jews who lived here. Formed by 8 smaller islands, Giudecca is crossed by gardens and vegetable gardens as well as new residential areas and construction sites. The Church of the Redeemer, a votive temple to Christ the Redeemer for the end of the plague epidemic that struck Venice in the summer of 1575 is very important. The other two places to visit are two great works by Palladio: the Abbey of San Giorgio Maggiore and the Church of the “Spinters” (in the past, an ecclesiastical convent for poor girls).
Sant’Erasmo, the vegetable garden of VeniceFlat and wide, the island is in front of the airport and is the second largest in size; it’s also called the “vegetable garden of Venice” because it supplies the city with the first fruits of the soil. Walking through Sant’Erasmo, you can admire expanses of cultivated fields, vineyards, orchards and canals: the numerous artichoke fields, or rather of the “castraurine“, the violet artichokes typical of this island capture the attention. You have to visit Tower Massimiliana: a massive Hapsburg military fortification that overlooks the mouth of the Lido harbor, overlooking the little beach of the ‘bacan’ where the Venetians, by boat, traditionally go for a swim.
Murano, the island of glassKnown all over the world for its glass production, Murano isn’t a single island but a group of small islands. The furnaces for melting the silicon sand in glass were moved and concentrated from Venice to Murano starting from the end of 1200 in an attempt to reduce the risk of fires in the city. And on the island the skill of the master glassmakers, who have developed manufacturing and design techniques, is nowadays recognized all over the world. The history of glass blowing technique inside glassworks is kept in the Murano Glass Museum, which displays a vast repertoire of “glass beads”, a typical work done by the women of Murano in the past.
Burano, the island of laceIt’s not just a simple lace, but a lace made on the pillow, a padded cylinder on whose surface the lace-makers move the threads of lace, crossing them and making them dance; today there are very few lacemakers, working in the area dedicated to them at the Lace Museum. The island is warm and welcoming thanks to the colorful fishermen’s houses, which are reflected in the canal facing the sea, as in an impressionist painting. Here the church of the island has a leaning tower, exactly like the one in Pisa. You have to try absolutely the typical dishes based on fish and the famous “bussolà” sweets of the islet.
Torcello, the island of the Huns
Once Torcello was densely populated and center of intense commercial exchanges; today, however, less than 20 people live there. There is a single road that starts from the pier and is surrounded by nature among fields, bushes, flowers and very few houses. The small road leads to the central square where there are the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta, clearly Byzantine-style, and the Church of Santa Fosca. In the center of this little square there is a throne, that is a stone seat: legend tells that it belonged to Attila, king of the Huns.
San Lazzaro degli Armeni, the island of Armenian cultureThis island is known for being home to a monastery that is one of the first centers in the world of Armenian culture. Many writers and artists of the past have come here, such as Lord Byron, to study the history of this people. In San Lazzaro, in fact, in 1700 a group of Armenian monks fleeing from Modone in Greece, where they were persecuted, sought refuge. Here you can relive the story of an entire people in one afternoon; inside the library there is a fresco by Tiepolo, illustrated manuscripts, Arab, Indian and Egyptian artifacts including the Nehmeket mummy.
Poveglia, the island of ghostsThe island of Poveglia is located in the south coast of Venice, along the Orfano canal; today it’s an uninhabited island and closed to tourism, but for the Venetians it’s the island of Sunday, which can be reached by boat and docks where you can spend a day with friends for a packed lunch. Poveglia has the reputation of a haunted island for the macabre historical events: initially a psychiatric hospital that saw the suspicious deaths of many patients, then a hospital for plague victims and finally a place where many soldiers died in the war between the Republic of Venice and the Republic of Genoa. For this reason, many stories tell that the island is haunted by the souls of all people who died here in past centuries.