Board a comfortable motorboat, departing from the Alilaguna pier in front of the Royal Gardens, and speed along the Venetian Lagoon to three islands famous for their handicrafts and architecture. You’ll cruise past the islands of San Giorgio Maggiore, San Servolo, San Lazzaro degli Armeni and Sant’Elena Gardens to Murano, divided into nine islets crossed by a wide canal. Known for its glassware shops and factories, Murano boasts a long and still-thriving tradition dating back to 1291, when glass artisans moved their kilns from the old city center.
Explore the island on foot and stop at a glass factory to watch a skilled glass blower create works of art. Learn from your guide about Murano’s wealth in the 15th and 16th centuries when the island was central to Europe’s glass making. View the magnificent splendor of Murano’s palaces and Veneto-Byzantine style churches, some with mosaics and ornamental motifs designed in the 12th century, and catch a glimpse of San Michele – Venice’s 19th-century cemetery – across the water. Before re-boarding the boat, you'll have time to visit a museum showcasing the world-famous Murano glass.
When you reach the island of Torcello – established between the 5th and 6th centuries and the earliest center of civilization in the Venetian Lagoon – you’ll see evidence of the island’s glorious past as it once flourished with ornate palaces and churches. First, view the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, founded in the 7th century. Your guide will also show you the excavated remains of the circular baptistery in the Church of Santa Fosca, which showcases a delightful portico and striking Byzantine interior.
Afterward, journey to the island of Burano and admire the picturesque fishermen's houses painted in bright pastel colors. In this miniature Venice, you’ll find the famous lace – abundant since the 16th century and once considered the most refined in Europe. Browse local shops and find lace on display at a museum dedicated to the craft of lace making before your guide returns you to Venice.