The island of Burano makes a fantastic day (or half-day) trip from Venice. If you have time to spare in Venice, here’s 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 (like the one at top)? 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 a true fisherman’s island
While there are touristy parts of Burano, much 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; local women peer over their flower boxes at the tourists wandering below.
But as one local told us, this is changing. It’s tough to live in Burano: Not only is the island isolated (it’s a half-hour trip from the island of Venice by boat), but it suffers from severe acqua alta, or flooding, each winter. For more opportunity and conveniences, many members of Burano’s new generations are moving to the mainland. Our advice: Go now.
(And in the meantime, don’t miss our fun video on the Venice lagoon!).
For handmade lace, Burano’s your best bet
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 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.
We like 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’s done. (La Perla is located on Via Galuppi 376, the main road in town). If you’re especially fascinated by lace and textiles, stop at the Scuola 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 Scuola del Merletto is located on Burano’s main piazza of Baldassare Galuppi).
You’ll 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 our 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; three courses, not including wine, will set you back about €40. That’s a good deal cheaper than any three-course fish meal of the same quality you’d find in Venice. (Gatto Nero is located at Fondamente della Giudecca 88; call +39 041 730120 for reservations, which are recommended).
Getting to Burano from Venice
One vaporetto line runs from Venice to Burano: the 12. The large, express ferry runs from Venice’s San Zaccaria stop (near St. Mark’s), to Burano and Murano, with another stop at Venice’s Fondamente Nove stop. It takes about 45 minutes, and costs €6.50 per person. A water taxi will set you back much more—around €130 and up, each way.