Given that Venice is a city comprised of over 100 islands spread across the lagoons, it’s a shame that many visitors never leave the city center. A day of island hopping in Venice is a must…hundreds of discoveries are just waiting to be made, and all are just a short boat ride away. The best way to enjoy these islands is to hire a water taxi. Open air at the stern and equipped with private captains, the water taxis are a wonderful means in which to navigate the Venetian waterways. A handful of the islands should not be missed, primarily San Giorgio Maggiore, San Michele, Murano, Burano, and The Lido.
San Michele is the island nearest to Venice and is home to Venice’s cemetery, with graves of several noteworthy literary and artistic personages, such as Ezra Pound and Igor Stravinsky. Next up on the island tour is Murano. Probably needing little introduction, Murano is the birthplace of the precious Murano Glass. Glassmaking factories crowd the entire island, offering an endless supply of colorful souvenirs. Glass blowing demonstrations are aplenty, just follow the Fornace (furnace) signs. The island of Burano is an old fishing town characterized by its vibrant colored houses, and its lace industry. The Museo del Merletto, housed in an old lace factory, contains the island’s lace-making museum.
Lying to the south of Venice’s center, the island of San Giorgio Maggiore is known for the Chiesa di San Giorgio Maggiore. Built by Andrea Palladio, the Renaissance church boasts works from Tintoretto and wonderful views from the top of its bell tower. Finally, the Lido is the most stylish of the Venetian islands, drawing film stars from around the world each September for the annual Venice International Film Festival. The island boasts a number of sandy beaches popular with tourists. Some of the beaches are a bit shabby, those on the Adriatic side tend to be better suited for swimming.