From behind the church of San Martino, on Burano, there is a view across the lagoon to the idyllic monastery island of San Franceso del Deserto. The island, with its 4,000 cypress trees, is inhabited by a small community of Franciscan monks. Getting there can be quite a challenge. If you take the water taxi from Burano, expect to pay at least €50 for the return ride. A better, and perhaps cheaper, option is to ask one of the local fishermen to give you a lift. They are usually willing to do so for a smallish fee - perhaps €25 for the return trip.
The other-worldly monk who shepherds visitors around will tell the story (only in Italian) of how the island was St Francis's first stop in Europe on his journey back from the Holy Land in 1220. He planted his stick, it grew into a pine and birds flew in to sing for him; there are certainly plenty of them in evidence in the cypress-packed gardens today. The medieval monastery - all warm stone and cloistered calm - is about as far as you can get from the worldly bustle of the Rialto.