We bid a joyful farewell to the Michelangelo this morning, and to our first (and last) cruise. We checked our bags into the luggage storage area at the train station, stopped for breakfast at a sidewalk caffè, and then hopped onto a vaporetto headed for the island of Torcello, another one of Venice’s 33 neighbors in the lagoon. From the Fondamente Nove (F.te Nove) vaporetto stop in Venice to Torcello took about 55 minutes.
Torcello, which is Italian for “Tower and Sky”, is a small marshy island toward the northeast end of the salt-water lagoon. It was the first settlement in the lagoon back in the 5th century, and was considered a very important center of trade and commerce in the 14th century, with a population of more than 20,000 inhabitants. Nowadays, the island is largely abandoned with probably no more than 20 permanent residents. It was a short walk, along the canal toward the campanile, on the town’s only street, to reach Torcello’s main piazza.
We found all the important tourist sites congregated together in the main piazza: the 11th-century Church of Santa Fosca (pictured above), the 7th-century Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta with its campanile, the Museo dell’Estuario (a small archeological museum), and Attila’s Throne.
A five-minute vaporetto ride from Torcello got us over to the colorful island of Burano in time for lunch. Actually, to say that Burano is colorful is an understatement. And, it is for this reason, that it is always flocked with tourists. The story goes that the houses on Burano were painted in different colors so that the fishermen could recognize their houses from their fishing boats out on the lagoon. While the male population consisted traditionally of fishermen, the women were traditionally lace-makers. It was the lace-makers of Burano who invented the famous “punta in aria” (stitch in air), which gave their lace a reputation for quality throughout Europe. Our Venice Museum Passes (Musei Civici Veneziani) got us into the Museo del Merletto (Lace Museum), where we saw examples of the famous Burano stitches, as well as the interesting tools they used to create their works of art.
The 40-minute vaporetto ride back to Venice from Burano left us plenty of time to continue our favorite pastime in Venice, which is strolling around and searching out the small alleys and canals away from the crowds at Piazza San Marco.
It turned out that we got a lot of use out of our 3-Day Vaporetto Cards that we purchased upon our arrival for 25€ each, at the vaporetto station in front of the ferrovia (train station). Your 72-hours of travel begins as soon as you stamp your card in the yellow stamping machine just before boarding your first vaporetto. This was our third trip to Venice, and we had never been asked to see our vaporetto tickets … until our very last trip today from Burano to Venice. You can be fined if you do not have a valid ticket. Fortunately, we still had a couple of hours remaining on our cards.
After a leisurely dinner at Vini da Gigio, Fondamenta del la Chiesa, Cannaregio 3628/A – tel: +39 041 528 5140 (reservations are essential), we climbed aboard our 11:00pm overnight train for the return trip to Nice. The anti-CPE demonstrators have convinced SNCF (the French Train System) to resume their strikes, so there will be another complete shut-down beginning day after tomorrow. For some reason they like to begin their strikes on Tuesdays, at least for this particular cause. We're hoping the trains will be running tomorrow, so that we can get from Nice to Antibes.