A world away from the Venetian crush, the lagoon is sheer watery peace.
The 520 square kilometres of Venice's lagoon contain 34 islands. Most of these are mosquito-filled marshes; some, on the other hand, offer much more and a trip around them makes a great day or two away from the hordes of the city's centro storico.
Line LN from the Fondamente Nove vaporetto stop goes to Burano, with its brilliantly coloured houses and lace-making tradition. Real, handmade Burano lace is produced in small quantities at huge prices - most of what you'll find in the stalls which line Burano's main streets is cheap imported stuff, but some of it is pretty nonetheless.
Linked to Burano by a long footbridge is Mazzorbo, a haven of rural peace and charm complete with farms and vineyards.
From Burano, pick up line T for Torcello where the seventh-century basilica of Santa Maria Assunta (open daily, free) has spectacular mosaics dating from the ninth to the 12th centuries. I love this wild, atmospheric island, where bridges lead across little canals into fields of crops and flowers. In the main square, a carved stone seat purports to be Attila's throne... though there's no record of the Barbarian strongman ever making it as far as Venice.
Where to eat
On Torcello, the Locanda Cipriani serves comforting classic fare at high prices in a delightfully old-fashioned atmosphere.
On Mazzorbo – linked to Burano by a footbridge – Venissa is a gourmet treat.