Burano is a quaint island in the Venetian Lagoon that is filled with colorful houses along the canals. If you are planning a trip to northern Italy and specifically Venice, you should be sure to set aside time to visit this stylish, yet classic little island. The colorful houses are certainly the most distinguishing physical aspect of the island of Burano, but it is also widely recognized for its lace making, and people travel from all over the world to purchase lace here. Mass production has made the longstanding art much less prevalent, but you can still visit the island and see the tradition being carried on at the Museum and School of Lacemaking. Among the most popular things to do on Burano Venice are trolling the canals to snap photographs of the distinctive houses, and paying a visit to the impressive fourteenth-century Church of San Martino with its leaning campanile, or tower.
Burano lace was instrumental in bringing the island of Burano to a place of economic stability and expansion. In the sixteenth century, women on the island began to perfect the trade, which had been introduced via Cyprus, under whose rule Venice remained. The origins of this particular brand of complex lace making can be traced back to a town in Greece called Lefkara, where Leonardo da Vinci once visited and purchased lace to bring back to Italy. It apparently did not take long for the women of Burano to take to the craft, and ultimately, the widespread production of Burano lace would lead the barely recognized island to relative prosperity. Today, the mass production of lace has made handcrafted items much more expensive, and there is a more prevalent knock-off business as a result. If you are traveling specifically with the intention of purchasing authentic Burano lace, be sure to speak with locals and do your research on reputable dealers.
By far the biggest attractions on the island of Burano are the colorful houses. Legend has it that the houses on the island came to be painted in such vivid and distinct color patterns so that fishermen could find their way back to their homes after coming in at night in dense fog. People who live in Burano now have to have the city council approve the color of their paint, so as to be consistent with the municipal laws on the patterns. The houses are so charming and beautiful, that most people who visit the island can be seen to be snapping pictures almost constantly. Burano is only about four miles from Venice and can be reached by vaporetto in around 45 minutes.
One of the best things to do on a trip to this part of Italy is to take on of the motorboats from Venice to Burano for a day of sightseeing and relaxing. Step outside of your boat and into one of the charming cafes or bars for a drink and bite to eat before returning to Venice. You really can’t go wrong in any part of Venice, but Burano is especially appealing and charming with its distinctive houses, centuries-old landmarks, and inviting cafes.
Top image: OliverC999 (flickr)