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Venice, a city so interesting architecturally, historically and culturally that you can easily spend the whole day simply marvelling at the sights and attractions around you. No one could ever tire of Venice – the most romantic of destinations, a place of myth, mystery and unsurpassable beauty. It is a city magically trapped between the worlds of reality and imagination, like those exquisitely exotic painted masks they donned when Casanova was still king of the Venetian night.
There are lots of places to visit, from free glassblowing demonstrations in Murano, wandering through the markets of Rialto, to spending a few hours at the Lido and exploring the many churches. However, there is one particular colourful island, a most fascinating place to visit set away from the touristy St. Mark’s Square- and that is Burano.
Have you ever seen those photographs of Venice, showing the brightly-painted buildings and flowerpots? They are not to be found on the main island of Venice, but Burano. Families used to paint their homes in bright colours to designate where their quarters ended and neighbours began, as well as to make their homes more visible from the sea. The tradition has stuck ever since.
Burano should not be confused with its more famous neighbour, Murano, which is synonymous with Venetian glass. Since the 10th century, when Venice jealously decided to protect its monopoly on glass production, all the city’s glassmakers were confined to the island and threatened with death if they ever betrayed their secrets. Murano was an island of furnaces and suspicion. Burano, on the other hand, has always been a sleepy backwater – home mainly to fishermen and lace makers. And so it remains, with a population of just 2800.
But for the past century or more, Burano has attracted visiting artists, poets and writers. They’ve all been drawn here for much the same reasons and today we’ve taken the 40-minute vaporetto motorboat ride across the lagoon from St Mark’s Square, past the Isle of the Dead and Murano, to enjoy Burano’s relaxed atmosphere, its seafood restaurants and the gorgeously gaudy colour schemes of its houses. I’ve been searching for a pastel pink house, the perfect spot for that great Venice photo-op.
There are lots of lace-makers in Burano set in the many jauntily-hued houses on this fishing island in the northern lagoon, the end result looking as if a bunch of children have been let loose with a giant paint box. The sheer prettiness of the place tempts plenty of visitors to make the trip across from Venice on the number 12 vaporetto, as does the island’s tradition of merletto (lace). A couple of delightful lace-making ladies are generally in residence in the mornings at the Museo del Merletto in the main piazza, where the church of San Martino has an early work by Tiepolo.
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’s why one handmade lace centrepiece for a tablecloth takes about a month to do! They have many exquisite laces to pick from, especially the tablecloths and matching napkins – a complete table outfit!
A perfect escape for the day to see this colourful island with its hidden gems at every corner. I would recommend you include this highlight as an essential part of your Venice trip and I wish you a colourful visit to Burano.