Explore the wonders of Burano and Murano where all kinds of fish delicacies delight the palate, and the lace-maker's and glass-blower's art gladden the eye.
The Venetian Lagoon is home to 30 small islands - most of them uninhabited.
After around 30 minutes of gliding along the Canal Grande and the Venetian Lagoon, you'll uncover Burano - famous for its brightly coloured fishermen's houses - which is reminiscent of our locally beloved streets in Bo-Kaap.
Local Burano Online Travel Expert, Sebastiano Dei Rossi, suggests that you arrive early to avoid the hoards of tourists.
Dei Rossi also explained the backstory to the vibrant houses in the area. He said that because fishermen used to be out at sea for long periods and the bright paint selections allowed them to be able to see their home from far - making them just a little less homesick.
These days, however, these houses are such a big part of Burano's image that owners require permission if they wish to paint it a different shade.
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Another icon of Burano is the Leaning Bell Tower of Burano - which has a tilt of about 1.8 metres to its structure. Dei Rossi explained that the tilt is as consequence of the ground of the plot and its architecture.
He elaborated that the ground is very swampy and the tower was simply poorly planned by the architect.
However, he admitted that today the locals are quite proud of the happy accident which has become a landmark that nobody or very few can imagine Burano without.
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Burano is also known for its hand tattered lace - which features its staple design of floral patterns and textured embroidery. This practice enjoys a long tradition here and is still practiced by a few of the locals.
But with such skill comes hefty prices as some pieces, like an intricately woven table cloth can require the collective power and energy of 20 lace-makers over the course of two years!
Marta Perissinotto from Martina Vidal, a speciality store in Burano, said that when people ask how much a piece, like a large table cloth of about five by two metres, she tells them that it costs as much as a Ferrari.
The store even houses a priceless wedding veil that was once crafted for the Italian royal family.
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As for Burano's fishing industry, these days only a few of the island's 2 500 locals earn their living from it.
They sell their catch in Venice and to the many restaurants found on Burano.
If you visit you can be sure to indulge in a menu that sees a wide variety of fresh fish and seafood.
And if you wish to eat the preferred fish of the locals, Michele de Piccoli who is a chef at Osteria al Fureghin said that the locals love marinated sardines in the morning with a glass of wine.
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You can then head on over to the neighbouring island of Murano, which is a short 20-minute boat ride away from Burano, and discover why it is world famous for its glass.
In the 14th Century, the island's glass blowers already had a reputation of being the best of their kind and featured royals among their customers.
Today, Murano still houses glass blowers who are masters of their trade - a trade which takes years of experience to know how to fuse pieces of glass together so that they won't crack and to create certain colours.
Andrea Salvagno, a glass blower in Murano, said that while Murano glass is known for its many colours it doesn't always start out that way.
Initially, he explained, the glass is virtually black, but they are trained and know how to manipulate the glass to obtain their desired colours during the process.
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Whether you opt for an intricate and lavish chandelier for several thousand euros or a smaller, more affordable figurine, a Murano glass souvenir is one item many tourists tend to take home with them from the island.
These islands make ideal day trips, but tourists rarely stay the night over at Burano or Murano. With Venice and its breathtaking scenery so close, it is too tempting to resist the Italian city.
Plan Your Trip to Venice, Italy:
- Do SA residents need a visa: Yes a Schengen visa is required - Read more about that here or here. It costs roughly R890 (up to 60 euros) and takes about 5 - 15 working days to process.
- Currency & exchange rate: Euro (€) - €1 = R15.62 currently
- Closest Main Airport: Venice Marco Polo Airport
- Airlines that travel there: Emirates, Qatar Airways, Lufthansa, KLM, Air France, Swiss International Airlines, South African Airways etc. Search for flights here.
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