Venice day 2 began with checking out of my hostel and storing my luggage bright and early! After taking care of that chore, I hopped onto the public bus to head into Venice. My goal of getting up early and arriving early was to get on one of the first vaporettos heading to some of the other Venetian islands. The earlier you arrive to island-hop the better as the vaporettos only run at select times and seats are limited. For a 40-minute boat ride, sitting is better than standing I can assure you!
Island 1: Murano
Murano is known for its famous glass-blowing. Boats are still the only mode of transport used and the houses are very similar to what is found in Venice. Unlike Venice, however, there is a more “homey” feeling to Murano. Even though tourists visit for glass-blowing demonstrations, shopping, and classes, Murano felt more authentic from a people standpoint. With arriving early in the morning, I had a lot of the canals and alleyways to myself, which felt so peaceful.
In Murano, I mostly walked around and went into the glass-blowing stores. The craftsmanship and time spent on blowing ornaments, sculptures, and bowls is absolutely incredible! Some stores have glass-blowing demonstrations for free, while others require payment. I stopped in a shop and saw glass-blowing for free, which was very cool!
Be wary of where you purchase Murano glass. Some stores “sell” Murano glass, but really the trinket was manufactured in China. The price, any imperfections that come from glass-blowing, or a certified sticker are all tell-tale signs of authenticity of the piece.
All in all, there is not a whole lot to do and see in Murano. 2-3 hours is plenty of time to hit the highlights of the island. If going to Murano from Venice, I suggest getting off at one of the first vaporetto stops. This way, you can walk around the island in somewhat of a circle to one of the “end” island stops that goes to/from Venice or Burano.
Island 2: Mazzorbo
Now, I did not intentionally mean to visit Mazzorbo. I thought I was getting off at Burano, but silly ole me got off at the wrong stop. However, this little gem of an island was absolutely beautiful! I walked through a well-kept vineyard with art sculptures and was able to cross a bridge to Burano.
Island 3: Burano
Out of the four islands I “hopped” to throughout the day, Burano hands-down was my favorite. This particular island is famous for its colorful buildings, which can be seen by the naked eye when riding the vaporetto. However, the fame of the colors does make this island extremely popular among tourists. Personally, I did not feel overwhelmed by the tourist crowd. I think there were many quiet places for photos if you simply took the time to venture out from the main shopping areas. Like Murano, there seemed to be a more local feel when walking around the island. School children were doing some art outside, laundry was strung up between buildings, and fisherman were bringing their boats in and out of the canals.
I spoke with two different local artisans who had some of the coolest wares. The first artist worked with ceramics making house numbers and initials shaped and colored like the houses found in Burano. I loved hearing about her inspiration behind her work and how she started her ceramics business. The second artisan had lived in Burano his whole life. He also worked with ceramics, but painted the colorful houses onto circles and semi-curved rectangles. I purchased items from both of these artisans and both thanked me for my business. Tourist purchases from locals keep locals in business and therefore preserves the culture. Shop local even abroad!
Island 4: Torcello
After Burano, I headed to Torcello. This island is known for its church tower, which provides a great view of all of the Venetian islands. Simone, my walking guide, had told our group the previous day she recommended stopping off at Torcello. Unlike Murano and Burano, there is no shopping at Torcello. Tourists mainly stop to see the church and then hop back on the vaporetto to head elsewhere. Since it was early afternoon, I basically went to the church and paid to go up to the church tower before hopping back on a vaporetto to go back to Venice. I found the views from the church tower to be very nice. As Simone had said during the tour, seeing Venice from the church tower provides great insight as to how the Venetian islands were actually constructed in the marsh. Torcello is worth an hour of your time in my opinion.
Island 5: Venice
The 40-minute vaporetto ride passed very quickly on my way back to Venice. Like the previous day, I wandered around in and out of buildings taking in the architecture. Before long, I found myself in need of a quick dinner. Unfortunately, I had forgotten my amazing map back at the hostel. Since I had loved the gnocchi from the day previous, I headed back to Baci & Pasta for a quick and delicious dinner of spinach gnocchi with a meat sauce and tiramisu for dessert. I happened to be the only customer in the shop and ended up talking with the owner. Recently, Trip Advisor had change the classification of his restaurant as “quick eats.” This had led to a decrease in his business, which made me sad because the gnocchi and tiramisu is amazing! I hope he is able to keep the restaurant open because local restaurants in Venice are struggling to compete and stay open. Hit up Baci & Pasta if in Venice!
Once I finished my delicious dinner, I headed back to the bus area. From there, I took the bus back to Mestre, went to my hostel and picked up my luggage, and then hopped on a bus headed to the Venice Marco-Polo Airport.
For an hour or so, I waited at the airport for another bus to take me to Ljubljana, Slovenia. While sitting on a bench, an Italian woman came up to me. She began rattling off something and gesturing. I smiled and nodded my head. Our communication lasted for a good 10-15 minutes. We both found ourselves laughing at the fact we could not communicate with one another, but that’s the beauty of traveling. You don’t have to actually know a language to communicate. Sometimes smiling, laughing, and gesturing gets the job done. Pretty soon, my pal left and some other travelers getting on the same bus joined me. I talked with an Englishman for a while. He happened to be getting his PhD in Trieste, Italy. Go figure! Eventually, our bus arrived (late of course) and five hours later, I arrived in Ljubljana at 1:30 am.
Another country, more exploring!
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