5 off-the-beaten-path destinations to visit in Venice, Italy

Visit islands with grim pasts, an historic island that was the start of Venice, an unusual bookshop and the colourful houses of Burano.

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Venice has many unusual attractions. This one is Burano. [Image Michaela Loheit/Flickr]
Venice has many unusual attractions. This one is Burano. [Image Michaela Loheit/Flickr]
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Isola di San Servolo Insane Asylum

Isola di San Servolo was known as the “Island of the Mad,” and was home to an insane asylum from 1725 to 1978. Some 200,000 insane men and women were housed here and few ever got the chance to leave. When it was closed it was made into a museum where the equipment used can be seen as well as photos of patients from 1874 onwards.

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Libreria Acqua Alta (High Water Book Shop)

The owners of the Libreria Acqua Alta book shop couldn’t handle having their books ruined by flooding from rising tides. They made sure the bookshelves were propped higher up from the floor and used bathtubs and boats to store the best books in the shop. One of the rooms has a full-sized gondola filled with books. Stray cats, affected by the floods, tend to hang out in the shop, usually relaxing on the top of the bookshelves.

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