The island of Burano makes a fantastic day or half-day trip from Venice. If you have time to spare in Venice, here is why you should add Burano to your list! Burano is a photo lover’s paradise Ever seen those photos of Venice that show brightly painted buildings and flowerpots? Those aren’t from the main island of Venice, but Burano. Families used to paint their homes in bright colors to designate where their family’s quarters ended and a neighbor’s began, as well as to make their homes more visible from the sea. The tradition has stuck. Today, Burano is a rainbow of fun, bright colors and the perfect place for that great Venice photo-up.
Burano is 7 kilometres from Venice, a 45 minute trip from St. Mark's Square by vaporetto, a Venetian water bus. All visitors of Burano are intrigued by the many colours and the colorful houses that are reflected into the green waters of channels.
Back in the 16th century, the women of Burano started stitching lace. The work was extremely exacting in fact, each woman specialized in a single stitch, and since there are seven stitches in total, each piece would have to be passed from woman to woman to finish. That is why one handmade lace centerpiece for a tablecloth takes about a month to do! Because of that amount of work and how expensive it necessarily makes handmade lace, much of the lace you see being sold in Burano’s stores today is made by machine. But if you want a glimpse of what lace was like in the time when it was all done by hand, you’ve still got some options.
La Perla, a lace shop on the main street, where handmade products range from tablecloths and doilies to Venetian masks and babies’ booties. Women often are stationed inside, stitching away, so you can even see how it is done. (La Perla is located on Via Galuppi 376, the main road in town). If you are especially fascinated by lace and textiles, stop at the Museo del Merletto, a museum with some excellent examples of 16th and 17th century lace, along with the beautiful, lace-trimmed gown worn by Queen Margherita, the Jackie Kennedy of late 19th century Italy. (The Museo del Merletto is located on Burano’s main piazza of Baldassare Galuppi).
Although lacemaking in Burano is the main craftsmanship attraction, enchanting is also the lume glass working: a technique born in the nearby island of Murano, processing.
Most savvy travelers head to the nearby islands, such as Burano. With fewer crowds and a more genuine feel, this historical fishing village offers another side of life on the Venetian Lagoon. Today, Burano is still a quiet village with about 2,000 full-time residents and its main industry is tourism, with day trippers from Venice coming to buy lace and photograph the colorful and picturesque canals. It is much quieter and more laid back than the big city, and while the small town can definitely feel crowded on a busy summer day, it is nowhere near as popular as Venice.
Burano is a true fisherman’s island While there are touristy parts, much of it still has the working island feel that can be hard to find on Venice. Fishing boats come in at the end of the day with their catch and local women peer over their flower boxes at the tourists wandering below.
You will eat better on Burano than almost anywhere in Venice because Burano is a working fisherman’s island, you can get super fresh seafood here for a fraction of the price it would be over the lagoon on Venice. One of my favorite restaurants is Al Gatto Nero da Ruggero. All of the pastas and desserts are made in-house and the fish is so fresh and delicious, even Jamie Oliver has recommended Al Gatto Nero on his television show.
If you can, hold out for an outside table, where you can enjoy a great view over the canal. For the quality of the food, the value is excellent; 3 courses, not including wine, will set you back about €40. That is a good deal cheaper than any 3 course fish meal of the same quality you would find in Venice.
(Al Gatto Nero is located at Fondamente della Giudecca 88; call +39 041 730120 for reservations, which are recommended).
If you want to experience the magic of the canals and the picturesque buildings in a much more relaxed atmosphere, Burano is the place for you.
Bit of History
Although earlier Roman remains have been found on Burano, the island was permanently settled in the sixth century by people fleeing hostile invaders on the mainland. Burano is still an active fishing village and its residents have always relied on the lagoon for sustenance. Although the neighboring island of Torcello was politically and strategically more important, it was abandoned and Burano rose to prominence in the 16th century because of the high demand for its lace. Women in Burano have always made the lace by hand and although lacemaking waned in the 18th century, it was later revived once again.