48 Hours In Venice By Land & Water

DAY 2: BACK TO THE SEA – THE LESSER-KNOWN ISLANDS OF THE LAGOON

SAN FRANCESCO DEL DESERTO – This remote island in the northern lagoon between Sant’Erasmo and Burano hosts the medieval monastery started by St Francis at the beginning of the 13th century. It is a serene environment with wonderful cloisters, two churches (a 15th-century church and a modern one), pretty gardens, flowers and numerous cypresses and pines. A small community of Franciscan friars inhabits the island and one of them will kindly guide you around the monastery and the gardens explaining (only in Italian, be prepared!) the story of the monastery.

Surrounded by nature and tranquility with a magnificent view over Burano and the lagoon, listen to the birds singing and you will be far away from the hustle and bustle.If you want to keep away from it for longer, you can even stay overnight at the monastery. Unfortunately, it is not served by public transport but it can be reached by boat – ideally you could rent one or, alternatively, you can opt for a short journey on a private boat from Burano. If you are visiting in the summer, drop me a line and I can always take you there by boat myself!

SANT’ERASMO E LE VIGNOLE – These islands can be reached by public transport but are still very isolated. Sant’Erasmo is the biggest island in the lagoon. Like Le Vignole it is mainly occupied by vegetable cultivations, vineyards and orchards. In the past, Le Vignole was nicknamed ‘the island of the seven vineyards’ and it used to be the place of vacation for the Venetians from the mainland.

Today, Venetians love to come here by boat with friends to enjoy traditional fresh dishes at the Trattoria Le Vignole. Sitting at the outside tables overlooking the lagoon they can enjoy the catch of the day with some local wine. Venetians like to continue relaxing by going with their boats to the nearby bacan – the shallow part of the lagoon with sandbanks and muddy terrains which is used as a temporary beach to put their umbrellas and deck chairs.When the tide changes, the beach disappears and the marsh-dwellers return to land. I have always wondered if this is one of my favourite beaches because of its strong connection to Venice or just for the fact that I am far away from the crowds. Perhaps both!

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