Venice is one of the world's most urban cities: a packed aggregate of houses, palazzi, churches, and squares, a landscape dominated by stone, brick, and stucco walls.

What many people don’t know is that Venice is surrounded by an ecologically rich body of water: The Venetian Lagoon.Exploring the Venetian lagoon, you find yourself in an ageless world. It contains more than 50 islands; many inhabited only filled with atmospheric monastic ruins and the tangles of overgrown gardens, relics of a tumultuous history.

Some islands, though, are lively and boast many interesting sights, such as Murano hosting visitors at its glass-blowing studios. Since the 13th century, Murano has been the center of Venice’s notorious glassmaking industry with techniques handed down from one generation to another. Murano is absolutely worth a stopover even more for its Glass Museum (Museo del Vetro) that exhibits the history of the craft through a spectacular collection and occasional glassmaking demonstrations.

The neighboring island of Burano is undoubtedly the most picturesque island of the Lagoon. It is an old fishing enclave with modest houses painted in cheerful colors — pink, orange, red, green, purple. Explore the canals, miniature versions of those on the central island, and nose around the backstreets where local artisans sit in their shops or on the sidewalks making laces as you watch.

Then there is the quiet and green island of Torcello where you can marvel over the Byzantine treasures such as the Cathedral of Santa Maria Dell'Assunta. Torcello is one of the first islands of the lagoon to be populated, and is still today a magic place with amazing showcases of its glorious past.