2. Venice: Murano, Burano, and Torcello Islands Private Tour
Embark on a journey deep into the Venetian lagoon on an excursion to the beautiful and unspoiled islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello. From the brightly-coloured fishermen’s huts of Burano to the glassworks of Murano and mysterious landmarks of Torcello, the islands conserve another side of Venice’s past and present where time seems to stand still and centuries-old traditions of craftsmanship live on today. We’ll begin our journey on beautiful Murano, actually a series of 7 islands linked by bridges perched in the heart of the Venetian lagoon. During our stop on the island we’ll learn all about the special glass-blowing technique brought to Venice from the Orient by returning traders and perfected over the centuries in the island’s charming glass museum, before seeing the works of the modern-day artisans keeping the traditions alive in their nearby ateliers today. If you wish, we'll also be able to arrange a glass-blowing demonstration where you'll get to see the incredible technique that magically turns molten sand into crystal up close. Murano is also home to the oldest church in the Venetian lagoon, which we can visit on request - lavish Santa Maria e San Donato, whose 12th-century mosaic floor is a masterpiece of Byzantine art. Back on the water, we’ll chart a northward course towards the seductive island of Burano. The incredibly picturesque brightly painted houses that line Burano’s narrow cobbled streets and waterways are a photographer’s dream, and the settlement even boasts its own leaning tower in the campanile of San Martino. The final stop on our journey into the heart of the Venetian lagoon is also a journey back in time. The semi-deserted island of Torcello is the birthplace of Venetian civilization, where according to legend refugees fleeing Attila the Hun’s Barbarian hordes on the mainland arrived in the 7th century, and was for centuries much more powerful than its younger neighbour across the lagoon. The stagnant air of the lagoon and the increasing difficulty of navigating its waterways led to its slow and inevitable decline over the centuries, and these days it’s a sleepy place with just 13 full-time residents. But its extraordinary Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, complete with spectacular Byzantine mosaics including a truly terrifying Last Judgement, is a vivid reminder of the island’s former glory.