Continuing from where I left off in Part One, Discover Venice's Other Islands - North Lagoon, where I travelled from the original location of Venice in Torcello, past the colourful lace island of Burano, and down through Marzobbo, Murano and Isola di San Michele all the way to Venice. This blog will focus on the South Lagoon as continue my escapades of avoiding tourist in Venice. Travel slow and discover the islands of Venice's lagoon with me.
While you might believe there are over 150 canals in Venice, most of these are actually "Rios" or rivers, and not canals at all. In fact, there are only three real canals, the central S-shaped Grand Canal that cuts through the centre of the city. Cannaregio Canal, connecting Grand Canal to the North Lagoon, and Giudecca canal, separating the main islands of Venice with the peaceful Giudecca, just south of Piazza San Marco.
Our Italian photographer Mirko Fin summarises Giudecca in four words, Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace, is his blog where he walks around the islands for some quiet respite from the hustle of the city. With remarkable views back towards the centre, and it's close proximity to Venice, it makes it the most accessible island on our list, and the perfect place for a Spritz as the sun goes down. Read his full article Echoes, Silence, Patience, Grace: Walking Around Giudecca.
Isola de San Giorgio Maggiore
Often you stand at the edge of San Marco's Square and gaze across the Giudecca canal, over the row of gondolas towards the impressive Church of San Giorgio Maggiore. But have you ever been up to the top of the bell tower of San Giorgio Maggiore and gazed back at the remarkable view of Venice? I would dare say the view is even more impressive and it certainly worth the arduous climb to the top.
PHOTOGRAPHY: ALEXANDER J.E. BRADLEY • NIKON D500 • AF-S NIKKOR 24-70MM Ƒ/2.8G ED @ 56MM • Ƒ/8 • 1/100 SEC • ISO 100
At just 5 hectares, San Servolo is the smallest island on our list, so you will hardly get lost on the green island, but that doesn't mean you should overlook it. It once housed a Benedictine monastery, before becoming an asylum for the insane, today San Servolo is a lush green space housing the Venice International University and the prestigious International College of Ca' Foscari University. While it might be small, it is actually one of the largest green spaces in Venice, and thanks to the pharmacy once located on the island, the large variety of fauna are impressive. For a more macabre experience, go check out the museum dedicated to the insane asylum.
Lido di Venezia
Once the playground for the rich and famous, Lido still offers some of its former glitz and glam. It is the home of the former Grand Hotel des Bains, which inspired Thomas Mann to pen "Death in Venice", the building is still waiting to be renovated though. Each September the island welcome A-list celebrities from across the globe at the internationally renowned Venice Film Festival. Most of the island is made up of Adriatic beaches, and most of these beaches are operated by the hotels attached to them, but if you are in the know, there are a couple of public beaches hidden in the mix.
The socialites of today are a little more reserved, and there is no better place to hide in luxurious fashion than the J.W. Marriott's own private island, Sacca Sessola. If you can afford a small mortgage, then I would recommend a Spritz at sundown on the Sagra Rooftop. They somehow don't stock Spritz Select, a sacrilege in Venice in my opinion, nevertheless the spectacular view makes up for it. I would stick to just one drink though, I accompanied mine with lunch, and I am still paying it off.
Although not a public island, I would be amiss not to mention the Plague Island of Poveglia and its twisted and sordid past. The small island is said to have hosted over 160,000 infected mortals living out their final days there when it was used as a quarantine and plague station, and it is rumoured that 50% of the soil is made up of human remains. Once a weapons cache used by Napoleon where scuffles broke out, it was also used as a mental asylum from 1922 where Mussolini sent his ex-wives. The director was said to have performed gruesome experiments, tortured and murdered his inmates until one day he "accidentally" fell out of the bell tower to his death.
Last on our list is the southernmost point of the Venice Lagoon, the island of Chioggia. "It is just like a little Venice, but with cars" my Venetian friends cheerfully boast. The village is adorable, but it is indeed jarring seeing vehicles mixing with the pedestrians down the main street after spending so much time in Europe's largest car-free urban area. This "Little Venice" is quieter and more laid back than its bigger sibling, but can still see some action, especially during the morning fish market. The port is quite active, and it can make for a unique and unusual day-trip from Venice.
Miss Part One? Read about the Lace island of Burano or the Glass island of Murano and all of the other destinations in Discover Venice's Other Islands - North Lagoon.
If you enjoyed these images and would like to learn how to use your camera like a pro, while exploring the Other Islands of Venice, book a walking photography tour with Aperture Tours Venice.
Author: Alexander J.E. Bradley
Alexander is the founder of Aperture Tours which run photography tours in the most photogenic cities across the globe. A professional photographer for over a decade, Alexander enjoys shooting the surreal by mixing dreamlike qualities into his conceptual images.