The city of water, gondolas, pigeons and boats, Venice Italy is on many travelers top destination lists of must see cities. Although I may be biased, calling Venice a type of home for my family, I can attest the allure and mystique that cloaks Venice whether you are there by yourself, with children or as a couple.
The trick to making magical memories in Venice though, is to go beyond the obvious attractions and destinations to find off the beaten path adventure in the surrounding islands.
Three Beaten Path Island Adventures In Venice
A seafood feast in Pellestrina
Pellestrina is a small village island located next to the beach island of Lido in Venice’s lagoon. You can reach Pellestrina by bus and ferry from Lido. To get to Pellestrina, take bus number 11 from Piazzale Santa Maria Elisabetta. The bus reaches the end of the island and then takes a ferry boat across to the island.
The island itself is only 11 kilometers long, but makes up for its size in village life, colorful buildings, summer festivals and delicious local seafood. One of the best places to soak up the local flair with a seafood feast that you will never forget is Da Nane, (San Pietro in Volta 282, +39 041 5279110).
Da Nane is one of the places that locals gather large groups of friends for an evening out. Be prepared to eat, seafood delicacies of all types including a pasticcio di pesce (like a seafood lasagna) or the many antipasti like the fritto misto (mixed assortment of friend seafood). Trust me when I say that even if you do not usually eat fried foods, you will not want to miss this.
Colorful Palettes and leaning towers in Burano
Although many visitors to Venice head directly for the island of Murano to see how glass is hand blown, the colorful-smaller island of Burano is worth the extra travel time by vaporetto. Burano is known for making lace as well as the colorful buildings that make the island look like an assortment of delicious candies, one brighter and and more colorful than the next.
A surprise in Burano is its campanile (bell tower). As you see it hovering over the homes on the island, you might wonder if your eyes are playing tricks on you as it appears to be leaning. The reality is that your eyesight is just fine as over the years, it has started to lean to one side, making it a fun landmark for children and photographers.
One of my favorite places in Burano was an artisans shop called La Buranella (via San Maura 383, Burano). This family owned shop brings the island of Burano to life in paintings and mosaic pieces of art, one more beautiful than the next. If you are in the market for a unique piece of Venetian art, one of these pieces, especially the mosaics that are each unique, will remind you of your visit to Burano in vivid colors.
History and culinary brilliance in Torcello
The next island over from Burano is Torcello, an even smaller enclave that transports you back to Byzantine times with a stunning Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. This island is thought to have been home to the largest population of residents when the Venetian lagoon was first inhabited, and is now home to only two residents.
Although the Cathedra, the stone Ponte del Diavolo (Devil’s Bridge) and a popular ancient stone chair are typical must see spots on the island, a trip to Torcello is made even better with a meal at the famous Locanda Cipriani (Piazza Santa Fosca 29, tel: +39 041 730150).
The Locanda Cipriani, part of the Cipriani empire of culinary experiences, is one of three restaurants in Torcello. Lunch at the Locanda Cipriani is best enjoyed under a decadent pergola with a luscious garden surrounding you, accompanied by a signature drink, the Bellini (virgin Bellinis are available for children).
Whether you are in the mood for risotto or a fritto misto (fried seafood), your taste buds will thank you for splurging on this extravagant meal. (Tip, reservations are strongly suggested for both lunch and dinner).
Venice can be a magical city almost regardless of what you see, eat or do…but adding in these three off the beaten path island adventures will transform your Venice vacation to make you feel almost like a local.