For peace and tranquillity, visit the islands. There are 118 in the archipelago, but many are flat islets in the lagoon. Take the vaporetto to Torcello, the original settlement that was Venice. This now largely abandoned island was once home to 20 000 people, but now only a handful lives here after decimation by invaders, plague and the gradual silting up of canals into marshes.
To walk the path from the vaporetto landing stage across the ancient bridge with no parapet, the Ponte del Diavolo, is to feel the melancholia of this abandoned place. The original cathedral from the 11th century has a bare simplicity not usual in Venetian churches, but is a place of great calm. This peaceful island has paths along ancient silted-up canals that peter out in grassy fields and thick undergrowth, where the only sounds are that of birdsong and whispering reeds.
In contrast, the island of Burano, once famous for its lace making, is a scaled down version of Venice with small canals, and brightly coloured houses. Keep the church campanile in sight and it is impossible to get lost here, so wander at will and enjoy the sights of fishing vessels moored outside the houses.
The island of Murano, famous for its glass making has organised tours around the factories even to the extent of free rides out to the island, but beware the hard sell. Instead, go on your tourist ticket on the No 52 Vaporetto and enjoy the island without buying what you don’t need and don’t want.
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