The Islands of Venice (Conde Nast Traveler)

Not far from the historic center is the Venice few tourists ever see: a series of islands scattered in the lagoon like gems, each with its own personality and charms.

VIA VAPORETTO

Who doesn’t love Venice, the city that’s inspired countless poems, songs, paintings, and heartbreaks? But not far from the historic center is the Venice few tourists ever see: a series of islands scattered in the lagoon like gems, each with its own personality and charms. Ondine Cohane skips the madding crowds and heads for the outer islands.

There are two things every visitor to Venice notices right away. The first is its beauty. The second is its crowds. This is a city, after all, that is home to 80,000 residents…and yet sees up to 25 million tourists a year. It’s a ratio that can disillusion even the most die-hard Venice lovers—myself included.

Recently, however, I developed a new strategy: Stick to the outer islands. There are more than a hundred islands in Venice’s 212-square-mile ecosystem, but most tourists simply camp out near St. Mark’s Square and rarely venture beyond the clogged arteries that connect the main sights of the Rialto, the Grand Canal, and the Bridge of Sighs. The outer islands, however, are where traditional Venetian culture still runs deep, where layers of history can be peeled back in still-quiet settings, and where chefs, hoteliers, and artisans are innovating in ways that would be impossible on the Grand Canal, where tourists’ expectations of a quintessential Venice experience mean there’s little opportunity for experimentation.

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