The Venice Lagoon is the largest in Italy: it occupies a size of 550 km², of which 67% is water. Within the ecosystem there are many islands, small or large, and among these near Venice are the famous Burano, Murano, Torcello and the characteristic San Francesco del Deserto and Mazzorbo.
From Garden Paradiso you can reach them by boarding the boat that departs from Punta Sabbioni or Treporti, destination Laguna Nord!
Burano is a place that you can already spot from afar: it's an explosion of colours, every single house is decorated in a different shade, from yellow to red, from purple to blue. Among them, Bepi Suà's house stands out, decorated with multicolored geometric patterns, in front of which it is worth taking a photo. If you approach the walls of the houses you will notice that in some parts the plaster is peeled and that underneath there is another colour (and yet another)! Every now and then, the locals like to change paint colour.
At the first oven you meet, stop to buy the typical biscuits, buranei in the shape of a compass (ciambella) or an "S", made with flour, butter and egg yolks. At lunch or dinner time, choose one of the characteristic restaurants where you can enjoy typical dishes and fresh fish.
Get lost in the small streets between the houses and then head towards the Church of San Martino, look up at the bell tower and you will notice that it is more crooked than the tower of Pisa! It is one of the symbols of the island together with the lace, whose tradition has been handed down for centuries among the women of Burano. The island's lace had international fame and was the essential accessory for the cloaks, collars and cuffs of the noblewomen of the fifteenth-century courts.
At the end of the eighteenth century this ancient art was about to disappear, because there was only one person left on the whole island who knew the technique: Vincenza Memo, called "Cencia Scarpariola." She was the first and only teacher of the School of Lace, inaugurated in 1872, which made the business flourish again. This and other stories are told at the Lace Museum, which houses the finest and most precious specimens, true masterpieces of the wise hands of Buranese women.
The second must-see stop is Murano, formed by seven small islands crossed by a canal and where, on one of these, stands the lighthouse that illuminates the port mouth of the Venice Lido. The island was for centuries the dependence of glass production controlled by the Republic of Venice, which had built its furnaces here.
In Murano, the master glassmakers still make their fragile and precious works of art in blown glass: the transparent and colourful leafy chandeliers are a famous example (an imposing one is preserved in the Ca’ Rezzonico palace in Venice), as are the elegant vases of the Venini and Pauly furnaces. There are also shops where you can buy small ornaments of various shapes and boutiques with rings and necklaces. Take a tour of the Glass Museum to learn the extraordinary history of this technique and ask to be able to attend a blowing session in one of the island's workshops: you will be surprised to watch the artisans work with fire and shape the liquid glass into sinuous shapes.
And after so much wonder, it's time to eat: even in Murano there is no shortage of places that offer dishes based on fish. If you prefer an even more traditional visit, try the famous "cicheti" (appetisers) to accompany the "ombre" of wine!
Torcello is an almost uninhabited island, where once there was an important monastic settlement, so much so that they had built the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta, in Venetian-Byzantine style, where still today you can visit the ancient mosaics.
To get to the archaeological centre, you will walk along a canal along which you will notice a stone bridge without balustrades: it is the Devil's Bridge, which tempts you on the way to the Basilica. Legend has it that every 24th of December the devil comes to the bridge under the guise of a black cat to collect an ancient debt with a witch, who owes him the souls of seven children, but she continues not to be seen.
If you are looking for a lagoon island with a unique charm, San Francesco del Deserto is really for you! Located between Sant'Erasmo and Burano, this small island is home to an ancient convent of Franciscan friars. To reach San Francesco del Deserto you need to get to Burano and from there organise a private transfer in advance.
On the island you can breathe a climate of peace and tranquility: here you can visit the monastery, with its cloisters and the church, and walk in the lush garden, between the green of nature and the blue of the sea.
The lagoon island of Mazzorbo is located near Burano, from which it is reachable on foot passing on the particular wooden bridge called Ponte Longo. Less touristy than the others and therefore even more typical, the island of Mazzorbo has a rural character due to the traditional crops of castraure (artichokes).
To visit the Church of Santa Caterina and the Tenuta Venissa, a vineyard surrounded by walls in which is housed the vineyard of Dorona grape, a native Venetian grape.