Travel Report: Burano Island, Italy.
January 2008. The pretty little Italian island of Burano sits in the northern Venetian Lagoon, just a forty-five minute boat ride from the city of Venice. Home to just two thousand residents, Burano is famous throughout Italy for its charming collection of multicoloured houses and lace production. In fact, this tiny little place often pops up on magazine lists as one of the most colourful places in the world! That’s quite the recommendation, so when I was planning my weekend trip to Venice, I made sure to leave a little space in the schedule marked Burano time.
January 2008. Burano Island dates back to the 6th century when it was settled by groups from all over the mainland fleeing hostile invaders. It began life as a fishing village and it was the fishermen themselves who began the tradition of painting the houses so that they could always see their homes, even when out at sea in dense fog. It was a considerably misty afternoon when I visited Burano, but the town’s colourful homes did a sterling job of cheering everyone up after the gloomy boat ride over from Venice.
January 2008. Today, those who want to paint their houses have to send an official request to the Italian government, then wait for a list of colours for them to choose from. Apparently not all requests are granted!
January 2008. People love to see pretty things, so Burano finds itself the subject of much tourist love, even on miserable grey days like this. I’ve heard the place is just awful in the summer. Much of the action takes place on its main street, where the storefronts are tightly packed together. Here you’ll find restaurants, cafes, bakeries, traditional sweet stores, ice cream parlours and plenty of lace shops. The island’s lacemaking history dates back to the 1400s and eventually the quality of the lace made here became so sought after even Leonardo da Vinci rolled into town to buy some cloth for the altar at Milan Cathedral. Disappointingly, most of today’s stores serve up Made in China knockoffs. For the real Burano stuff, expect to dig deep in your wallet. If you’re really into the lace thing, Burano even has its own lace museum.
January 2008. Get off the main street and you’ll quickly discover what makes Burano Island such a special place. The background chatter fades out as mums hang out laundry out of windows, council workers sweep the already spotless streets and in finer weather little old ladies sit out embroidering lace.
January 2008. If you take a little time to investigate, you’ll uncover some fantastic little artistic flourishes throughout Burano’s residential streets, from religious iconography, flower pots and well-placed household items to paintings, mosaics and murals.
January 2008. Apparently artists are drawn to Burano to be inspired by the sea and a simpler way of life in the island’s peaceful backstreets. Right enough I could picture myself here in a little top floor studio tapping away on my laptop at a window overlooking the canal.
Interested in visiting Burano Island? Check out how to best get there from Venice with this excellent article from somethingoffreedom.com.
For more Italian adventures, have a look at my article on Venice.
I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001, so why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.