Burano is often confused with Murano, but make no mistake, the two Venetian islands are worlds (and a 40-minute vaporetto ride) apart. This four-island archipelago to the north of Venice proper is a working fishing town and home to a culture of artisanal lace-work tracing its origins back to the 16th century. Today people often visit on day trips from Venice because it has amazing seafood for much cheaper than you can get it in Venice, brightly-colored houses beloved by travel photographers, and lace stores bursting with both machine-made and hand-made lace.
Visiting Burano: Things to See
The Brightly-Painted Houses
One of the more common questions we hear from people visiting Venice is: “Where are all the colorful houses?” The answer: in Burano. Interestingly, the reason(s) that Burano-dwellers started painting houses outlandish colors remains somewhat obscure. The local legend is that it had something to do with fishermen wanting to see their houses from their boats, possibly through the dense winter fog. Whatever the case may be, generations of families have kept their houses painted very brightly and the government has even gotten involved. If anyone wants to paint their house they have to let the authorities know; in order to maintain the color scheme there are only a certain number of colors that they are legally allowed to use. On a sunny day when the Lagoon is as its greenest, there is no better place to snap off a few street scenes on your camera.
The Lace Stores
After being settled by Rome in the 6th century, Burano spent 1,000 years without a claim to fame. That changed in the 16th century when lace became all the rage among European nobility and it became known that Venice in general and Burano in particular made very high-quality lace of incomparable detail. As far as handicrafts are concerned, it doesn’t get more intricate or more tedious than lace-making and Burano lace was the most intricate of all. The women of the island even developed their own signature stitches which became the marks of quality that adorned all those cravats and frilly cuffs in banquet halls and drawing rooms across the continent. Although much of the lace on Burano is now produced with machines, the handmaking tradition has never died out here and when you visit the lace stores today you will find both products created in the traditional way, and if you’re lucky, women sitting in the stores, creating lace with knowledge passed down over hundreds of years.
Many of the men who are still fishing for a living around Venice live in Burano. This means that, aside from the stalls of the Rialto Market, Burano is the best place to buy and eat locally-caught fish. Keep an eye out for sardines, soft-shell-crabs (springtime only), seafood risotto, and of course, whatever is on the board as the catch of the day.
Tips for Visiting Burano
As Burano is a public island, it doesn’t’ close but public transport does stop around midnight. Check local timetables as they are liable to change.
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.
The Best Time to Visit Burano
We always recommend spending a half day in Burano, including the better part of an hour which you spend in transit both ways. Reserve a table at a restaurant ahead of time and make sure your visit coincides with either lunch or dinner so you can enjoy a fantastic meal for a much better price than you’ll get in Venice.
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