San Pietro is isolated and peaceful island, mostly "tourists-free", on the east side of Venice, just north from isola di Santa Elena (but not connected by any bridge with it). It is dominated by San Pietro di Castello church. There are two bridges connecting San Pietro island with other parts of Venice and "San Pietro" vaporetto station on the east side of the island.
Torcello is probably the quietest of the island on the Murano, Burano, Torcello tour. Its sleep air and delightful churches are a delight to explore - make sure you climb the Bell tower for fine views across the lagoon.
The mosaics in th church are some of the finest you'll see too (see my Torcello page for more). Several restaurants are here including the renowned locanda Cipriani so it makes a good lunch stop on the island tour.
Hardly off the beaten track this little island its across from St Marks Square. Take water bus no 82 from Zaccharia for the 5 minute crossing and enjoy a wander around the little harbour area before you visit the Greek-styled church and monastery here. The views of Venice from its bell tower are well worthwhile paying the escalator fee for - you can see these on my San Giorgio Magggiore page.
In fact Venice has many small island in the lagoon that are worth exploring and I'll mention a few more of these in the next few tips.
The long thin island alongside San Giorgio Maggiore is La Giudecca - formerl a place of exile for venetians. This working class suburb of Venice is a peaceful place to wander and enjoy the views across to the Zattere of Venice. one day we will come back and explore this island more - just ran out of time. If we win the lottery then we will stay at the 5 star cipriani here ;-)
The nearby island of Lido, known for it annual film festival, is a pleasant small village to escape to when you're tired of the tourist crowd in San Marco. There are a couple of attractions here like the beaches which attract the beach-loving summer crowd, and the huge Tempio Votivo.
But I came to Lido not for some serious sightseeing but to soak in the laidback vibe that is so missing in the main islands. While the place has its fair share of tourist-packed hotels, there are also lots of friendly locals who are just sitting on the many cafés sipping their cappuccino and watching the world pass by along their leafy streets and unpolluted, non-stinking canals.
Vaporetto nos. 1, 51/52, 61/62, and 82 take tourists and locals to Lido island.
The Island of San Giorgio maggiore stands right in front of the Doge's palace (Or Palazzo Ducale)
There are a church, some religious institutes, and an harbour with a few sailboats.
From this angle, Palazzo Ducale and the bell tower appear among the masts of the sailyacths....
Nice place to moore your boat, isn't it?
This was one of those 'accidental finds' I was looking for 'cheap' accommodation for my last 2 nights in Venice. Il Lato Azzurro came within my budget, but I wasn't sure where Sant Erasmo was. There wasn't too much information about this island (which made it more intriguing) As soon as I'd checked it out, I realised that I was going to like staying on this island.
Vaporetta 13 from Fondamente Nova carries you across the lagoon to this former Roman Pleasure ground! (please check my transport tips for more info)
This is the largest of the lagoons islands, but is only sparcely populated. The island produces fruit and vegetables for consumption on Venice.
I was surprised to see tractors working in the fields, after being in traffic free Venice.
Straight roads are lined with trees and shrubs, some cross over canals, again lined with grassy banks and fragrant flowers. The silence being broken by motor boat engines or bird song.
I really enjoyed staying here, It offers quite a contrast to Venice. There are no 'big attractions' apart from a 'newish' church, the Torre Massimiliano- a 19th century fort, which now holds exhibitions, and a small beach (Spiaggia Libera)- the main attraction is its peaceful rural landscape!
Near the beach is a bar/pizzeria which appeared to be a 'locals' meeting place, otherwise bring food from Venice for a picnic. There is a mini market near the church, but I'm not sure of opening times, or what it stocks.
From the Capannone vaporetta stop its about a 15 minute walk to the tower/beach. Il Lato Azzurro hotel rents out bikes (10 mins along Via dei Forti) You might be able to get a map of the island here too.
Next to Sant Erasmo is the former Quarantine island Lazzaretto Nuova. For over 30 years this has been the site of archeological excavations, with many Roman objects having been unearthed. Guided tours are carried out by archeologists (in Italian) April - October Saturday and Sunday 09.30 and 1600. These are the only times that You are allowed access to the island (unless you make prior arrangements)
When you step off the boat at Piazza San Marco, go all the way to the right and walk along the canal until you come to Via Garibaldi, then turn left into the neighborhood of Castello. This is an enjoyable walk with local shops, and a great bakery where I found the most delicious olive bread! If you take V. Garibaldi to the end and cross the bridge you will come to an island which has the original church of Venice, St. Peter's. The island was one of Venice's earliest settlements. The 7th century church was the cathedral of Venice until 1807, when San Marco took its place.
As you go to the other Islands around the Achipeligo you will probably see this vista of Venice. Though the water appears dirty it is really just a reflection of the grey sky - when the sun comes out it looks a clean blue!! Due to the amount of water between the Islands the only way to travel is by boat - more specifically Vaporetto - which can be caught not far from St Marks Square to most destinations. A trip to Murano for glass, Burano for lace or Torcello for a wander all start with buying a ticket for a boat ride. A wonderful memory of a great place.
By San Marco you can catch a ferry to Lido. From here you can go to the other Islands. Our directions to get to the island of Chioggia were ; Catch the ferry to Lido and then catch the number 11 bus to the other side of the island. From there catch the ferry to the next island and then catch the bus to the other end of the island (by the cemetery ). There you catch the ferry to Chioggia. It was easier than it first sounded.
I walked along the south edge of Dorsoduoro and cought the vaporetto to Sacca Fisola which is probably about as far of the tourist beat as you can get in Venice. It is very unusual , since it has ordinary concrete apartment blocks around grass squares, some light industry and nothing really to look at. Though unlike a mainland area, as still no cars. I have no idea of the history of the area but would estimate the apartments as dating from the 60s or 70s. Strangely there is only one bridge across to Giudecca. Walking back eastwards you can see a few modern buildings, right on the southern fringes of Venice. Pretty cool being able to sail in and park ander your apartment.
Giudecca is also the place to come if you want to buy 'normal' things like groceries, or chill out on a canalside terrassa with a coppa and not be charged an arm and a leg.
The small island you see in front of San Marco Square is called San Giorgio Maggiore. You can easily recognize it by its campanile, that looks almost the same like the one on San Marco. A suggestion: instead of climbing the campanile at San Marco, climb the one on San Giorgio Maggiore: it's cheaper and the view is much better!
Except for the campanile, there's also a church and a convent on the island. And don't hesitate to have a look at the (private) boats lying in front.
To get there, you guessed it, take the vaporetto.
Some people think that Venice is just that area around the San Marco Square, we spent almost all our time in Venice around that area only on our way back from the boat that we realized there are many beautiful Islands around which tour guides tend to leave out. I read some reviews about these Islands and there are nice places to see, for which I will definetely spare some time to see on my next trip to Venice.
The landscape along which this long but most interesting itinerary unfolds touches upon several scenic backdrops, ranging from fish farms to small rural villages - Le Mesole and Lio Piccolo - the courgette and artichoke market gardens that make this corner of the lagoon particularly picturesque.The environment is one of the most evocative ones, its main feature being the fish farms; and there are cormorants, and white and grey herons in wintertime; common redshanks, stilt plovers and egrets in summertime, and sandbank formations with their characteristic flora and fauna.When following the long road that coasts alongside the embankments separating the fish hatcheries, you almost feel as though you are advancing into the waters of the lagoon. Beyond Sacchetta Valley you can visit the village of Le Mesole, known for its special fruit and vegetable crops, and reach an oratory (with an ancient curved cypress in the garden) and the restored 16th century monastery.
During our entire stay in the city of Venice we thought that the Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore was quite a fascinating place. We read that "The waters of the St. Mark's Basin mirror the majesty and splendour of the Basilica of San Giorgio Maggiore." and it's really like that. When we were at the Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square) we had a clear view at it and we're already wondering how it would be on that particular island. We wondered about it once again when we were all the way up the Campanile and looked down at it. During other hikes in the sestieres of Castello and Dorsoduro we still could see it. Finally our curiosity had another huge impuls when we stopped for a short time for the vaparetto stop on our way to the island of Lido. By then we made the decision, it was about time to visit the island.
On one of the last day of our honeymoon we took the vaparetto number 82 and finally we ended up at Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore, at the island directly opposite of the Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace). Now it was time to find out whether our effort was worth it.
10:00 - 12:30
14:15 - 17:30
Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore