While the most interesting/impressive stuff (churches, palaces, canals) is on Venice Island, the crowding there makes it almost more enjoyable to escape to the other islands and the lagoon itself.
Went there on a bit of a whim, was a bit too closed unfortunately, so didn't get to see any glass blowing. Went to the glass museum, it's OK but not really worth the increased-since-your-guidebook-was-printed entry fee.
I did enjoy wandering around on it though, looks like a fairly relaxing place to live. Bit of a shock to see an (old) barrel of arsenic though, on a mudflat island half a meter above sea level, maybe 50m from the shore. One hopes that was an isolated incident. The island actually had a bit of greenery and space which was quite a relief after a couple of days on Venice Island.
The glass you can afford is apparently probably not made there. Almost all the stuff in the shops is revolting anyway – I'm not just being snooty, it's garish manycolored patterned clowns etc., very ugly.
Pisa, Bologna, Burano. If there's one thing we can learn from a trip to Italy, it's that you shouldn't employ their builders to build you a tower centuries ago. They all lean (see below for why).
The Island's quite pretty, each house is painted a different color – apparently there was originally a meaning to the colors, but that's long since lost and now they're just whatever color they feel like.
Not much else on this island, the lace museum is apparently not worth a visit, and the lace you can afford is apparently probably not made there. I'm detecting a theme here…
Quite a nice little island, just an old church, a currently-working church, some vines and things. Dropped by there on the…
I like understanding, and the tourist stuff on the islands will have you sick to death of details of churches and Venetian paintings but knowing nothing of the islands and the lagoon itself. So I plunked down some unpleasantly large euros to go on a worthwhile small-group tour of the northern lagoon with a local marine scientist.
He explained not just how Venice came about – groups from the peninsula displaced temporarily but repeatedly by losing battles for control of the near-shore mainland settlement, being forced to take refuge on the marshy islands of the lagoon, and eventually forming a permanent settlement out on the most stable islands further out – but also moreso the nature of the lagoon environment, the formation, destruction, and now conservation of the marshes and islands, and the lagoon inlets, channels, and tidal flows – and how man has been both affected by and affecting all these things.
Some interesting things:
Aside from Torcello above, we also stopped by an interesting island that's an ossuary – a bone store. Many of the various minor islands were at one point assigned to various groups or functions, eg. military, and this one was where the city's skeletons ended up. I hopped over the wall and went in a little way – it's all blocked up by brambles, but there are some little human bones around you can see. You'd need a machete to get in further and see more (and of course digging to find unexposed bones around the periphery would certainly not be right), so don't get too carried away – but though no Sedlec it is interesting to know that they had such a place.
On the way back the skyline of one of the smaller islands silhouetted against the fading sky in a way I found disproportionately amazing – it looked like something from a children's book, buildings all in black clear with trees, towers, outlines of churches with windows cut out of the silhouette to show the sky behind), big shapes I can't quite imagine the source of. You can see what I mean in the photo if you click again to zoom in, but it doesn't look like much – I guess it's one of those had-to-be-there moments.
I enjoyed tootling around Venice, and while you wouldn't need to spend more than 3-4 days there really, it's pretty unique and worth a visit.
After spending a few hours finding somewhere to post my postcards – almost every shop sells postcards, and none of them sell stamp (and there are only about four post offices on Venice Island, and they're all closed by the time you get there) – I headed out to the airport and flew to Berlin for my conference.