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Gems of Northern Italy - Day 6 Burano and the Northern Lagoon

This is the sixth in our series on Uniworld’s Gems of Northern Italy river cruise.  To read from the start of our cruise, click here.  Today we had an all day excursion exploring the northern Venetian lagoon including Burano.

The original Venetians

View of Torchello cathedral and tower View of Torcello cathedral and tower

After a 45 minute boat ride we arrived in Torcello.  This was the first settlement in the Venetian lagoon.  The first buildings were built in the 7th century while the cathedral that stands today was built in the 11th century.  We arrived before any tourists and got up close and personal with the interior of the cathedral.  The back wall was filled with a beautiful mosaic depicting heaven, hell and everything in between.  It was a unique look at the thinking of the time.

The accompanying tower dates from the same time period and afforded really nice views.  The town was at our feet and we could see that it’s mostly a place where people come to have receptions or go out for a nice dinner. It’s rather remote now; having dwindled from the original 10 - 20,000 inhabitants by the 12th century to less than 100 today.  

Here's a good article if you'd like to know more about the cathedral.

Golden wine

Venezo wine - with gold leaf label Venezo wine - with gold leaf label

We had a short water and coffee stop at one of the local restaurants.  It was 83 F but very humid and so this was quite welcome.  The ship then took us on the short ride to Mazzorbo.  On this island we went to the Venissa vineyard where they grow grapes.  Several things of note - this is the only vineyard in the lagoon. While the region is famous for wine, almost all of it is up in the foothills.  But the wine produced here is unique and is based on the original grapes  (Dorona) that were grown during the height of the Venetian Republic  - this is the wine of the Duges’.  We tasted the wine - it’s highly prized both because of its history, it’s taste and it’s limited production.  Each bottle was selling for 140 Euros!  Even the label was gold leaf.  It was fun tasting such an expensive and unique wine.

Bright Burano

After touring the vineyards and grounds a bit we walked over to the island of Burano.  Their claim to fame is lace of which there were several very fashionable and exclusive shops on the island.  Here we walked around town, admiring the very colorful houses and shops.   Each color represents a different family.  After a long voyage at sea, I’m sure it was welcoming to see you family colors as you were getting close to home.  We stopped for lunch and had a very nice risotto based on the local fish stock.  Very subtle flavors and quite nice.  After lunch, we walked back to the ship.  By this time the crowds had arrived and the quaint little town became a tourist mecca.  No thanks - time to leave.  

We arrived back to the ship’s air conditioning, ice cold drinks and shower.

A view of Burano's main canal A view of Burano's main canal

Brightly colored houses on a side street in Burano, Italy Brightly colored houses on a side street in Burano, Italy

Tonight we decide to have pizza again up on the top deck.  There’s something about eating outside in Italy (especially pizza).  We were joined by some friends we met on board - nice to relax after a busy day.  A great meal, great weather, great conversation.


Tonight’s entertainment is Italian Opera.  A soprano and tenor sang about 10 songs from various Italian operas.  Their booming voices completely overwhelmed the intimate lounge space of the ship.  It was a great finish to the day.  What a concluding note.


Surprise ending

The northern Venetian lagoon is full of surprises:  medieval mosaics, one of a kind golden wine and brightly colored fisherman’s houses.   Venice is not just St. Mark’s, glass and lace - it spans miles, time and cultures.  And what could be better than an operatic surprise ending?

View from atop the Tochello tower View from atop the Tocello tower

Artichokes in Marzorbo Artichokes in Marzorbo

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