Off the Beaten Path

When traveling around Europe, people tend to stick with what they know – the large cities. Tourists flock to these metropolises, hoping to see famous landmarks and historical sites. However, throughout my travels, I’ve discovered that the best way to really experience a country and it’s culture is to make your way out of the city and into the small towns and villages. Like small town USA, these areas are where you’ll enjoy the most authentic food, experience the best hospitality, and truly see the wonderful facets that make up these cultures.

Venice is one of the more well-known cities in Italy and Europe in general. Visitors to this city hope to see this architectural marvel, with it’s romantic gondolas and unique Mardi Gras traditions, that is slowly sinking into the Venetian Lagoon. What many don’t realize, however, is that just a short 15 minute boat ride away are two unforgettably enchanting gems: Murano and Burano. These islands offer the same experience of canals and gondolas like Venice, but provide an added artistic adventure, and they’re accessible through the same ferry pass that many purchase to get around Venice!

Murano is best known for it’s high quality Venetian glass. The craftsmanship is absolutely unparalleled, and visitors to the island are able to watch a number of glass-blowing demonstrations by artisans whose craft has been passed down for generations. The glasswork for sale is truly mesmerizing and is a can’t miss for those traveling to Venice.

IMG_0731 IMG_0691

The next stop is Burano, a charming fishing village known for it’s detailed lacework. People from all over the world come to Burano to see it’s brightly colored homes (painted this way so people can find their way home in the fog) and purchase a variety of lace products, from clothing to handkerchiefs to tableclothes. Many stores even boast cliental from Elton John to Hugh Grant! And like Murano, there are many demonstrations of how the lace is made throughout the village. You could spend hours walking around taking pictures of all of the bright colors!

IMG_0742 IMG_0764