If you look down at Venice from above, it is immediately clear how the beauty of its ancient palaces, churches, alleys and bridges represents only a small part of the splendour of the Venice Lagoon, where a vast archipelago of islands rises between canals and sandbanks.
Undoubtedly the best known and most visited are Torcello, Burano, Murano, and the nearby islands of Giudecca, San Michele and Lido di Venezia, but there are also less frequented islands, such as San Lazzaro degli Armeni, Sant’Erasmo, Vignole and San Francesco del Deserto, which tell the history and traditions of these places, and finally smaller islands, once abandoned and now semi-recovered, such as the Certosa and Poveglia.
The build-up of Venice is very particular. The city, in fact, was built on 118 islets connected by 435 bridges crossing 176 canals. Around the city, there are 62 islands. Among the major islands there are of course Lido of Venice, Giudecca, Murano, Burano, Torcello, Sant’Erasmo, Vignole and Certosa. Among the smaller islands located in the North Lagoon, the islands of San Michele and San Francesco del Deserto are certainly worth a visit, and the islands of San Lazzaro degli Armeni and Poveglia, located in the South Lagoon.
Lido of Venice, a thin 12 km long island, located between the Adriatic Sea and the Venice Lagoon, is bordered by the ports of Malamocco and San Niccolò. The island was inhabited since ancient times and is known today for the beauty of its beaches, the retro atmosphere and for the Film Festival, which has been held here since 1932. Lido of Venice can be reached in 20 minutes by boat from Piazza San Marco and from Cavallino-Treporti (Punta Sabbioni landing stage). Do not miss a walk on the Murazzi, the typical Istrian stone dams to defend the island from marine erosion, and a visit to the picturesque village of Malamocco.
Torcello is one of the oldest islands in the Venice Lagoon and is located about 40 minutes by boat from Camping Ca’Savio. An important trading center of the ancient era, the island is now almost uninhabited, but retains its wild charm and is full of history. Loved by artists and writers for the quiet that surrounds it, Torcello is the perfect place for a day away from mass tourism, to taste the typical dishes of Venetian cuisine in the prestigious restaurants of the island or to admire its ancient artistic heritage.
Known throughout the world for its refined glass production, Murano is one of the best known islands of the Venetian Lagoon and is only 10 minutes by boat from the historic center of Venice and 40 minutes from the Treporti pier, easily reachable from Camping Ca’Savio. The shape of the island resembles a miniature Venice and is made up of 9 small islands connected by bridges, crossed in the middle by the Grand Canal. Murano offers a lot to see, especially for art and craft lovers: the Glass Museum, the Basilica of Santa Maria and San Donato, the Palazzo Da Mula, the Church of San Pietro Martire and numerous furnaces, to be visited absolutely to admire and better understand the ancient glass working technique that has taken place here since 1295, when the Serenissima decided to transfer all the furnaces in Venice there.
If Murano is known for its glassmaking, Burano is instead known for the production of fine needle lace and for the colorful houses that distinguish it from all the other islands in the lagoon. A place out of time, where the traditions and simplicity of a people of fishermen revive in every corner of the island. If you stay at Camping Ca’Savio, a visit to Burano is a must. In a few minutes by boat from the campsite you can reach the island, admire the various attractions it offers, such as the Lace Museum, the Church of San Martino, the Leaning Bell Tower, the Casa di Bepi and the Ponte dell’Amore, and enjoy sweets. and typical dishes of Venetian cuisine in its renowned restaurants.
Giudecca is the island closest to the historic center of Venice, to which it is connected by the canal of the same name. Once called “Spinalonga” due to its elongated shape reminiscent of the bones of a fish, Giudecca has long been inhabited by the bourgeois and noble families who had built their luxurious palaces here.
The origin of the name “Giudecca” still appears controversial today: according to some it refers to the ancient Jewish community that once resided on the island, others argue it derives from the dialectal term “zudegà” (“judged”) and refers to a sentence issued in medieval times during which farms were granted to families to compensate them for the damage suffered during the exile to which they had been unjustly condemned.
If you are on Giudecca, do not miss the opportunity to visit two splendid masterpieces by Andrea Palladio: the Chiesa delle Zitelle, which refers its name to its ancient function of hosting destitute girls who could learn traditional women’s jobs here, and the Basilica del Redentore, built for the end of the terrible plague that struck Venice in 1576.
Other places that deserve a visit are the Molino Stucky, a nineteenth-century style building, now used as a conference center and hotel, from which you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the city, and the Casa dei Tre Oci, a neo-Gothic building that houses important cultural events related to twentieth-century art.
The island, although very close to Venice, is not connected to the city by a bridge: from Piazza San Marco you can reach the Giudecca in about 15-20 minutes on board an ACTV vaporetto (line 2 or 4.1).
San Lazzaro degli Armeni is a small island of 7000 square meters located near the west coast of Lido of Venice. The island, being at a certain distance from the historic center of Venice, was in the ideal position to host a leper colony and right here the Serenissima Republic since the 12th century concentrated the leprosy patients, of which San Lazzaro is the protector. In 1717 the island was donated to the Armenian fathers of the Mechitarist community, who in 1789 started an important printing house there, which was active until recent years, as well as building a rich library with more than 170,000 volumes, ancient manuscripts and rare manuscripts. The island also houses a prestigious museum that collects part of the treasures of the Armenian Congregation, acquired or received as a gift over the centuries.
Located near the islands of Murano and Burano, the island of Sant’Erasmo is second in size only to Venice. Flat and wide, Sant’Erasmo is also called “the vegetable garden of Venice” because it supplies the city, and beyond, with fruit and vegetables with a unique flavor, including the violet artichoke, celebrated every year with a festival in the month of May. The island is a true oasis of peace, perfect for a bike ride among vegetable gardens and vineyards, for a swim in the sea on the wild beach of “Bacan” or to discover the historical and cultural beauties of Sant’Erasmo such as the Massimiliana Tower and the Chiesa del Cristo Re. Sant’Erasmo is easily reachable from Venice and Murano, and is only 30 minutes away from Camping Ca’Savio.
The island of the Certosa, or simply “La Certosa”, rises north-east of Venice and is separated from the Vignole island by a channel that is 20 meters wide. The name of the island derives from the Carthusian Fathers, who lived there for centuries until the nineteenth century, when they were removed from the island following the Napoleonic measures. The island was stripped of all its works of art and became a military outpost until the middle of the last century, when it was abandoned. Today, after a long recovery project, still in progress, the Certosa has become an urban park that enhances the island’s remarkable environmental heritage. Here, in fact, there are forests of white poplars, ash trees, privets, hawthorns, mulberries and other typical plants, spread over the entire surface of the island (22 hectares). The only historic building left on the island is the Casello delle Polveri, a seventeenth-century building that housed military ammunition, now home to events and conferences. The Charterhouse also houses a dock with more than three hundred berths, a sailing school, a shipyard, a hotel, a restaurant and a bar. In about 20 minutes you can reach the island from the center of Venice aboard an ACTV vaporetto (line 4.1).
Le Vignole is an island of 69 hectares, located north-east of Venice, between Sant’Erasmo and the Certosa. The island is about 25 minutes from Venice (Fondamente Nove) and can be reached via the ACTV vaporetto (line 13). Lush of vegetation, the Vignole was once called “the island of seven vineyards“. In fact, fruit and vegetables from the Rialto market often came from the vegetable gardens of the island, transported every day on large rowing boats. Today Le Vignole is a village of about 40 inhabitants much loved by the Venetians for a stop in one of its characteristic trattorias. The military presence on the island is also important: in addition to a long building once used as a powder keg, the Vignole is connected by a bridge to the island of S. Andrea, where there is a fort built for defensive purposes in the sixteenth century. The seventh-century church dedicated to Sant’Eurosia, flanked by a small bell tower, is worth a visit on the island.
Located between Burano and Sant’Erasmo, the island of San Francesco del Deserto is perhaps the most evocative of the northern lagoon and easily recognizable by the green of the dense cypress trees. The island is home to a convent of minor friars, originally founded by St. Francis himself, and has always been administered by the Franciscan Order, with the exception of the early nineteenth century, when Napoleonic troops transformed it into a warehouse and a powder magazine. San Francesco del Deserto is a real oasis of peace and meditation: it does not have bars or restaurants, and the possibility of accommodation is reserved for those who go there for spiritual exercises. However, it is possible to admire the island accompanied by the friars, who organize a daily guided tour of the convent, the two cloisters and the gardens. San Francesco del Deserto is connected to the island of Burano by private transport.
The island of San Michele is located halfway between Venice and Murano, and is almost entirely occupied by the monumental cemetery of the city built here in 1826, following the edict of Saint-Cloud which no longer allowed the burial of the deceased in the churchyards and inside the churches of the cities. The island cemetery, which attracts the interest of many tourists, houses the remains of many illustrious personalities, including the writers Carlo and Gasparo Gozzi, the playwrights Riccardo Selvatico and Giacinto Gallina, the painters Virgilio Guidi, Emilio Vedova and Mario De Luigi, the composers Ermanno Wolf Ferrari and Igor Stravinskij, Luigi Nono, the poets Josif A. Brodskij and Ezra L. Pound, the psychiatrist Franco Basaglia, the scientist Christian Doppler, the choreographer Sergej Diaghilew. The island of San Michele is only 10 minutes by boat from Venice (Fondamente Nove) and can be reached aboard an ACTV vaporetto (line 4.1 or 4.2).
Opposite the island of the Lido of Venice there is a small island of 7 hectares considered one of the most haunted places in the world: the island of Poveglia. Many call it the “cursed island” due to the strange and unfriendly presences that inhabit it, but these are certainly legends linked to the history of the island which in the past centuries was used first as a hospital for plague victims and then, from the beginning of ‘ 900 until the 1960s, as a psychiatric hospital. Today Poveglia is completely uninhabited and is one of the favorite places for the Venetians for the Sunday barbecue. The island can only be reached by private boats and docked here where possible, as there is no accessible pier.
Camping Ca’Savio, located on the Cavallino-Treporti coast, enjoys a privileged position to spend a pleasant holiday by the sea and to discover the marvelous islands of the Venice lagoon, easily reachable from the campsite via the ACTV water buses, which connect all the year the nearby piers of Punta Sabbioni and Treporti with the islands. Discover all the accommodations at Camping Ca’Savio and book your holiday now just a few minutes from the islands of the Venetian Lagoon!