Travelogue: Exploring the Venetian Outer Lagoon {Italy}

For those fortunate enough to spend more than a day in Venice, I highly recommend venturing out into Venice’s outer lagoon. The vibe is entirely different and well worth the 20+ minute trek on the vaporetto (water bus). Most tourists tend to flock to two popular locations: Murano, known for their exquisite hand-blown colored glass and the island of Lido, where many affluent visitors and celebrities live it up resort-style during the Venice Film Festival. Less congested, but no less beloved, are the islands of Burano, Mazzorbo, and San Giorgio Maggiore. The latter only being a short 5 minute ride away, offers a stunning panorama of Venice’s Piazza San Marco; while the other two (located about 30 minutes away by boat) are connected to each other via a small foot bridge. Wherever you go in the outer lagoon, you will surely not regret it.

My favorite destination in the outer lagoon has to be the colorful little island of Burano. Known for it’s Easter-egg colored houses and Venetian handmade lace, Burano is a popular tourist destination that somehow retains much of its local charm. There are still quite a few people who reside on Burano, so when passing through their narrow cobble-stone streets, be sure to be respectful of the island’s residents as you snap away at its darling scenery. An old fishing town, Burano is home to several famed restaurants including my favorite, Trattoria Al Gatto Nero. Also of note are the many little shops dotted along the island, which I have found, offer many little souvenirs and Italian specialties at a fraction of the price you’d find it near San Marco. In some shops, you’ll even see some authentic Murano glass jewelry. I bought a large bottle of good limoncello for only 10 euros on Burano, whereas the same bottle was selling for 17 in the shops near our hotel. For a traveler on a budget, this purchase made me feel like I had struck gold. While there isn’t terribly much to do on Burano aside from eat, take photos, and some light shopping, there truly is something special about it and it should not be missed.

For the gourmand, a short walk over the bridge to the tiny island of Mazzorbo may be worth a try. While there are much fewer dining options and shops here, it is Venissa that is worth the visit. Housing an award-winning restaurant, cozy little hotel, and some of the only wine-producing vines in Venice, Venissa is luxury and quiet in an old world setting with modern amenities  While a meal at their restaurant will set you back quite a few euros, they’ve garnered several great reviews for their all-local, slow food approach with a contemporary twist. Just taking a walk through their grounds after some lunch make for an impressive afternoon.

Wherever you decide to go, be sure to bring your sense of adventure. Wander around, get lost, but remember to check on when the last vaporetto back will depart and if you’re on the hunt for a grand meal, be sure to book your table in advance no matter what the season.

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