Welcome back! Couldn’t get enough of Venice, eh? Me neither. That’s why I decided to write another page on it. Last time, we saw some of Venice’s more famous landmarks, but today we’ll be journeying around the lagoon’s other islands the newcomer can explore. Then we’ll head back to the main island and find some things to do around the city, before we wave goodbye to Venice and travel to Bologna.
Venice’s second-most famous island (after the city itself) is probably Murano, an island just slightly north of the city. As well as being picturesque and a hell of a lot quieter than Venice itself, Murano is famous for its glassmaking. Murano glass is unique, because beautiful objects are crafted using a variety of different colours. Different strands of glass can be used in lots of different ways, to create thousands upon thousands of different patterns. You can also put gold strands into glass, if you’re really wealthy. The island has been making glass since the 1200s, and Murano glass became so famous internationally that it became a symbol of power and riches. This is no more obvious than in Venice itself! In the old Royal Palace, in a corner of St. Mark’s Square, many of the rooms have stunning chandeliers made from Murano glass. The handcrafted flowers in pastel colours that adorn the lights make the room look even more elaborate! If you get the Vaporetto (Venice’s unique form of public transport) to Murano then it’s well worth watching this glass being made.
Another unique island in the lagoon is San Michele. Doesn’t sound very interesting does it? Well, it stands out from the other islands because the entire island is a huge graveyard. Creepy, I know, but fascinating all the same. Here, whilst enjoying the solitude and peacefulness under the trees, you can visit a number of pretty little chapels. You can also marvel at the graves of the rich and famous – Russian composer Stravinsky is buried here, amongst lots of other musicians, artists and writers.
If you’re looking for a beach holiday, look no further than the Venice Lido. At just a short journey away from Venice on the Vaporetto, you’ll find miles upon miles of public beaches. In fact, it was here that swimming in the sea first became popular in Europe, so lots of grand, posh hotels were built in order to accommodate those who wanted to try “sea-bathing”. Today, everyone can enjoy it, although you might want to watch out for jellyfish!
The island of Giudecca is where many Venetians actually live and work. You’ll find many, many more modern buildings here. It’s also a popular area with students, so you’ll find lots of young people milling about in the piazzas or staying in one of the many youth hostels on the island. It’s not the same everywhere, though – at one end of the island the Hilton Hotel makes its mark on the Venice skyline. It’s an imposing building, too, as it used to be a gigantic flour mill.
If you go to Venice this year, you’re very lucky, because every two years Venice hosts the Biennale. This is a huge arts exhibition, and each country has a building in which to display the best of their art, music, culture, film etc. The main “pavilion” and the pavilions of traditional participators like France, Germany and Britain are in the Giardini, which is just off St. Mark’s Square. Newer participants or countries without a pavilion yet are displayed in buildings around the city, so there’s plenty to explore! The Biennale also gave birth to the Venice film festival, which is now world famous.
It’s hard to believe there’s so much to see and so on one tiny little island, but then again, it isn’t just any island – it’s Venice, and it’s magical. Now, we’ll be travelling back to the mainland by train, and heading south into Emiglia-Romagna. Don’t go away!
Image credit: Alice Barnes-Brown