LivingTravelVisiting the Venetian island of Burano

Visiting the Venetian island of Burano

You’ve probably seen photos of Burano, the picturesque island in the northern Venetian lagoon, famous for its brightly colored houses and handmade lace. With a very different atmosphere and far fewer crowds than Venice, Burano makes a great day trip from La Serenissima , but we also recommend it for a night or two, especially if you want to see another side of life on the Venetian Lagoon.

Story

Although earlier Roman remains were found on Burano, the island was permanently colonized in the 6th century by people fleeing hostile invaders on the mainland. Burano was and is a fishing village whose residents have always depended on the lagoon for their livelihood. The neighboring island of Torcello was politically and strategically more important (now almost abandoned), but Burano rose to prominence in the 16th century, when its lace-making traditions were born. For centuries, women made the intricate handmade lace, which was in great demand throughout Europe.

Lace making declined in the 1700s but was revived in the late 1800s. Today, although Burano is famous for its lace, there are only a few traditional lace makers left on the island (see below).

Burano’s brightly colored houses line its boat-filled canals. The tradition of painting houses in this way is said to tie in with the island’s heritage as a fishing village – the bright colors made it easy for returning fishermen to find their homes in the thick fog of the lagoon. Burano residents are also said to prefer glossy paint like a well to mark where one property ends and another begins.

Today, Burano remains a quiet town of about 2,000 full-time residents. Its main industry is tourism, with day trippers from Venice coming to buy lace and photograph the colorful and picturesque canals.

What to see

Via Galuppi, the island’s main street, is lined with pastry shops and souvenir shops, shops, bars and restaurants. If you move away from that area, you will see fewer tourists and you can enjoy the tranquility and beauty of the canals and colorful houses that have long drawn painters to the island.

The island is also famous for its incredibly delicate and intricate handmade lace. Unfortunately, many stores sell cheap faux lace, much of it made in China. The first clue: if it is cheap, it is not real. Even the smallest piece of royal lace from Burano takes weeks to finish – a tablecloth can take a team of women up to a year to complete. We recommend you start with a visit to the Museo del Merletto, the lace museum, to learn about handicrafts, then visit one of the island’s royal lace shops.

The lace makers at Martina Vidal have been scowling for four generations, and the workshop has three floors of lace clothing, homeware and gifts. You can also see the artisans at work. Emilia Burano is also recommended for authentic lace. Remember, the real thing is not cheap, even the smallest item, such as a handkerchief or rug, will cost 45 euros and up.

Burano also has a leaning tower, the old 15th century Church of San Martino bell tower, which is a great place to take pictures.

To learn more about the history and way of life in the lagoon, you can take a boat tour with Domenico and Enrico from Pescaturismo Nettuno. They are both fishermen who are deeply committed to preserving the natural beauty and native traditions of Burano and the lagoon, and a ride on their authentic Bragosso fishing boat is an excellent experience, as well as a way to support sustainable tourism in Burano. .

Where to stay and eat

Burano has several good restaurants specializing in fresh seafood. The most famous is Trattoria al Gatto Nero, known for its azure façade, handmade pasta and homey atmosphere. Trattoria da Primo e Paolo, right on the main square, is famous for its seafood risotto, as is Trattoria da Romano, also in the square. Riva Rosa is also recommended and has a rooftop terrace with stunning views of the lagoon.

For a more exclusive experience, cross the walkway to Mazzorbo Island and Venissa Restaurant, a Michelin-starred restaurant set in a walled vineyard and garden. It’s part of Venissa Wine Resort, which also offers a cozy cafe and bar, premium wines, and polished, modern rooms for an overnight stay.

There are numerous Airbnb options in Burano, but the only hotel on the island is Casa Burano, which offers stylish, modern rooms spread across three traditional, colorful houses. Staying overnight in Burano is a magical experience: after the daytime crowds return to their Venice hotels, Burano’s canals turn glassy, residents come out to talk and play cards, fishermen tend their boats and bells. of the churches call the faithful. to mass. It is a quiet and authentic side of Venice that few tourists take the time to see.

How to get to Burano

Burano, after all, is an island, so apart from an expensive private taxi from Venice, the way to get there is to take Vaporetto number 12 from Fondament Nove, which leaves every half hour. The Vaporetto also makes a stop on the island of Murano, so if you are arriving in Murano from another part of Venice, you can transfer to number 12 at the Murano Faro stop. On the picturesque 40-minute walk, you will pass the cemetery island of San Michele, Murano and other small islands in the lagoon.

The cost of a one-way trip is currently 7.50 euros, or you can buy a 12-hour island pass for 20 euros, good if you plan to visit more than one island. There are also passes valid for longer periods of time. For more information on rates, visit Mouversi a Venezia or check out our guide to transport in Venice.

From Burano, it’s a short boat ride on vaporetto line 9 to Torcello, a quiet island whose cathedral has impressive Byzantine mosaics.

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