The second stop on our cruise was the island of Burano, which is located about 8 km north of Venice. If Murano is known all around the world for its glass production, Burano is almost as famous for its lace. Around 4,000 people live on this tiny island, which is also famous for its brightly painted houses. To this day, fishing and lacemaking remain the island's two biggest industries. Burano's lace has long been recognized as some of the finest produced in Europe thanks to a special technique called "punto in aria" that was developed by the island's lacemakers in the 16th century. In 1872, a school of lacemaking was even established on the island to teach this technique to young women (the school is now home to the Museum of Lace). However, one should know that the lacework found in the island's numerous little shops is not all authentic Burano lace, which might actually be a good thing because real lace made the traditional way can be very expensive given the number of hours that goes into making a piece.
Since we only had 40 minutes to spend on the island, we used most of our time in Burano to walk up and down the lively little streets and take pictures of the island's colourful houses. We also stopped by a couple of lace shops (didn't find any pigs there!) and visited the church of San Martino, which is open to visitors free of charge. The church's campanile is one of the region's most famous leaning bell towers and it can best be admired from the lagoon where it seems to greet visitors who have chosen to escape from Venice for a few hours. I have to admit that of the three islands we visited on that day, Burano was my favourite!
Serenissime Motoscafi, Venezia provide a trip to the three islands Murano, Burano and Torcello.
They tour takes about 3 to 4 hours.
First stop is Murano, where you can see how the glass of Murano is produced, followed by the usual visit to a glass shop. After that, you have to rush back to the boat and won't have the time to explore the rest of the island.
Burano is next and of course you can see how their lace is produced. The stop is very short and doesn't allow you more than just walking down the little streets for a few minutes.
Torcello is the last stop and does not offer much.
After all, we spent EUR 13 (Students Price, normal Price EUR 19) which is a fair price, but you just don't have enough time.
So we left the tour halfway through and went back to Burano to explore the island on our own.
Burano Island is noted for the colorful splashes of paint that distinguish home ownership or "the bright purple walls are my home" address. Each home has it's own color. I wonder what they do on a dark night?
The real beauty lies in the windows with the flower boxes that add the magic touch to a walking tour of the byways of Burano.
Burano is one of the must island visits when in Venice. If only to see the spectacular colors that transform the homes into personal artworks and makes the waterways come alive as an artist's palate.
Make sure you cross over the many bridges and walk the lanes of these splashes of color to truly enjoy Burano.
We took a tour that went to Murano, Burano and Torcello. Next time we go to Venice (love it, so will definitely go back) I would take taxis to the islands instead, particularly Burano.
There was very little time allowed in Murano, only enough to watch a glass blowing demonstration. Would like to explore the island more. Would also like more time in Burano as I just love the beautifully coloured houses. It would be a treat to stay on the island for one of the nights in Venice I think. There was only enough time to briskly walk across Torcello to the habitated area (well there were a couple of buildings there), quickly stick your head into the church, grab a souvenir if so inclined then briskly head back to the ferry.
But definitely go to Burano - beautiful!
The island of Burano was famous for lace making in the past. All the houses there are painted in brightly colours. It is said the reason was that the fishermen who lived there wished to spot their houses from afar when coming home.
Burano is formed by four islands linked together and is located near the island of Torcello.
You can get there by vaporetto. You can take it from Fondamenta Nuove (it is a street name). The journey lasts around 40 minutes.
I had seen round plates with animal carvings in Venice on a church, but had no idea what they could stand for. In Burano I saw them again, this time on the facade of a normal house.
Each circle holds two animals, one on top of the other, either riding on it or eating it.
I still have no idea what they symbolize, if anyone can help me there, I'd really appreciate it.
Update from May 2007:
VT Member Trekki pointed me in the right direction, towards byzantine architectural ornaments. I checked in a lot of books and finally found a reference to these ornaments. It seems they were put up partly a simple ornaments and partly as "messages".
A book called "Physiologus" had attributed certain characteristics to certain animals, so putting up two good animals was seen as an extra protection of the inhabitants of the house. An ornament showing two evil animals was supposed to tell evil spirits to stay away from there, as their place was already taken.
Reading about this got me interested in this book, it seems this concept is still existing in our
imagination today. Think about Disney's "Lion King", in which the lion is seen as the king of the animal world and not, for example, the elefant or the giraffe. In the Physiologus the lion stood for kingdom.
For such a small island this is a very large church, again holding many paintings , among them a painting showing a miracle which is supposed to have happened on Burano's shores.A marble coffin holding the remains of a martyr was floating in the water near Burano, but nobody, not even the strongest men, could pull it ashore. Finally some small children went into the water and brought it onto the island without any effort. This painting was done in 1690 by Antonio Zanchi. It shows this miracle in great detail.
The painting which impressed me most was completely different. It shows a saint and a young Jesus , both wearing very modern clothes. This was done in 1945. I tried to take a picture of it, but it turned out to be too dark.
We went to Burano early in the morning, as we wanted to be there before the crowds. The weather was beautiful again, we were able to see the snow-covered mountains far away. In Burano the vendors were just putting up their stalls, it was a very quiet and peaceful atmosphere. We strolled through some streets in which we were the only people around.
Later that day, when we came back to have lunch (excellent!, see my restaurant tip), it was a lot livelier. There was a market going on and both locals and tourists were busy doing their shopping.
The most striking element in Burano is the colour of the houses, especially when you see them reflected in the water. Since the day before had been really wet, many umbrellas were hanging upside down from the windows, a very practical method of drying them.
Half an hour Vaporetto ride away from St. Marks Square is the quaint fishing village of Burano. The often photographed island (note the pastel colored houses, sometimes justaposed to white laundry) is known for lace making. Great place to spend the afternoon and have a late lunch.
Take Vaporetto #12 from San Marco or #14 from Fondamente Nuove (in Cannaregio). It take about 40 minutes to get there.
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