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The Islands of Venice Lagoon - Veneto

How many islands are there in the Venice lagoon? The lagoon is a single island: it is a sort of cluster of small and large, joined and separated "water sisters": Mazzorbo, Sant' Erasmo, Giudecca, Lido, San Pietro in Volta, Pellestrina; the tiny Costanziaca, Ammiana, San Tommaso del Borgognoni and the "submerged churches" of Lio Piccolo; the abandoned San Secondo, Santo Spirito, San Giorgio in Alga, Poveglia, Sant'Angelo della Polvere, the Lazzaretto Vecchio and the Lazzaretto Nuovo, San Servolo, San Clemente, La Grazia and many others are just part of a much longer list.

San Giorgio Island

But there are two extraordinary islands, two places of the spirit, which are surrounded by a unique solitude and which deserve a special mention: San Francesco del Deserto and San Lazzaro degli Armeni. These two isles have a very particular charm and beauty. Murano, Burano and Torcello are, along with Venice itself, the most important representatives of the lagoon, of its beauty and art and of the craftmanship of the people of the ancient Venetian Republic. Three islands, three worlds to explore and which are easy to reach from their "mother" town.

Burano
Burano

This is the most picturesque of the lagoon islands due to the extraordinary colours of its low houses, doors and windows, which look like the work of naive painters. The island can be reached in less than an hour from the Fondamenta Nuove and in half an hour from San Zaccaria. Burano is made up of four little islands separated by canals. Laces and fishery are the island's main resources. The embroideries unite fantasy and delicacy; the most difficult and well-known stitch is the so-called "air-stitch', which is a real miracle of Burano's lace-makers. The island has a high density of population and on its old narrow streets and coasts there are hundreds of stalls and shops.

 
Murano
Murano

These five tiny isles separated lengthwise by the local Canal Grande and crosswise by the canal of San Donato and by the Rio Vetrai can be reached in a few minutes both from San Zaccaria and from the Fondamenta Nuove. Murano is known as the island of glass-works (since 1291) and it is the place where experienced glassblowers turn a craftwork into a piece of art.

 
San Francesco del Deserto
San Francesco del Deserto This island was occupied in 1200 by a community of Franciscan friars who still live inside an austere convent embellished by two XIV and XV century cloisters. Accommodation available (call 041 5286863). San Fancesco del Deserto can be reached both from Venice and Burano in 20 minutes by boat.
 
San Lazzaro degli Armeni
San Lazzaro degli Armeni

This island, inhabited by a community of religious Mechitarist Armenians, was loved by Lord Byron. Inside the convent there is a typography that has been printing precious volumes for centuries and a library (30000 volumes among which 4000 miniated codes of enormous value). In the church there are valuable paintings.

 
Torcello
Torcello Aerial View

If you want to understand the "culture of the water" that permeated Venice's lagoon you must read a XVI century epigraph exhibited in the Museo Coffer of Venice "With the help of the Divine Providence the city of the Venetians was founded on water, it is surrounded by water and protected by water instead of walls. Anyone causing damage to the public waters shall be considered an enemy of our mother-land". Torcello is one of the most representative spots of this culture; it is both the most renowned of the small islands and the most important from an artistic point of view. Many of its monuments have disappeared in the swamp that started expanding after the XIV century; while others were dismantled to recover the materials subsequently used for other buildings.

Food & Wine
Venetian cuisine is known for its variety of dishes and ingredients. The cuisine is based largely on seafood and one of the most representative dish is fish risotto which comes in a variety of forms, the strangest one is the risotto alle seppie with a bright black color that's a result of the cuttlefish being cooked in its own ink.
But the Venice cuisine is famous also for its soups (especially in Caorle area, called
brodetto di pesce ), recommended where the cephaloped variety of fish concerne cuttlefish, octopus and squid. Among the delicious wines we recommend the Soave, the Pinot, the Cabernet, the Tocai and the Cartizze.

For more information:
Venice - A.P.T. Local Tourist Board
Azienda di Promozione Turistica di Venezia
Castello 4421 - 30122 Venezia ITALY

www.turismovenezia.it

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