Isola Burano, Venice
If I had to choose between the islands to visit in the northern lagoon Burano would be my number one choice. Its so idyllic just to stroll around the maze of narrow streets "calli" and banks "fondamente" on small canals taking in the colourful views of this fishing and lace island. More info on my Burano page.
If you are considering a day trip in the laguna islands, then Burano is a must. This small fishermen village is so different than Venice that it almost feels it is in another country. The houses are all painted in very bright colors making the whole experience of walking in Burano a treat for the eyes.
some tips :
1. Try to get there very early in the morning or late in the afternoon, when the light is warm but not too 'hard'. Your resulting pictures will be the stuff of legend. If you like taking pictures, dont miss Burano at its best (btw, my pic is a bad example.. it was taken around 1pm in May!)
2. on the way to Burano, get out of the vaporetto at the Mazzorbo stop. From there you can walk to Burano (5-10 minutes) and it's a nice quiet way to start your visit of the island (instead of being herded like cattle at the Burano dock)
3. if you can, bring a picnic on Burano and eat it in the park near the vaporetto dockings or on the edge of Mazzorbo island. Restaurants can be found on Burano but they are mainly of the tourist types and are not that great anyways.
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.
Burano takes approx 45 minutes by Vaporetto to get to and is well worth the visit if you have some spare time. The Island has many very colourful houses and boats lining the Canals. In the middle of the main square where you can see the characteristic crooked bell-tower, you find the antique lace gallery "Dalla Lidia" and this is definately worth a look. Lace is the mainstay - along with tourism - of the Island and has a rich history dating back several centuries.
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.
Burano is my favourite part of the Venice complex, in fact it is the only part of the town which I really love. I still remember my first visit to Burano, which was over 25 years ago, when the place was less touristic and less crowded of course. You could walk around, meet the locals everywhere and talk to them openly. Now you cannot see old fishermen around, seat and chat with them and sipping home-made wine which was usually offered by them.
Piazza Galuppi is the main square of Burano, an huge and very pitoresque open space where the parish church and the main administrative buildings of the place are situated. It is where the local community gathering together in occasions of festivities or other activities.
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.
Burano is a fishing village on an island near the big island of Venice. The first thing you may notice as you get close is the varied colored of the homes. Legend says that the fishermen wanted to see their home as soon as they got close to the island, so they painted them all a different color to make it more noticeable.
The island is renowned for its lacework and there are plenty of shops selling lace of all designs and sizes, including clothing.
Enjoy a dinner of seafood risotta, a specialty of Burano. After all, it's an island, seafood is as fresh as it gets.
To get there: head to a water taxi stand and check for the routes to the other islands. the taxi runs less frequently than the one headed to Lido, so double-check before you hop on. But it's a fairly quick trip and you'll get a nice little tour as you pass by Murano and the cemetary island.
Canals, narrow houses painted in pastel colours or decidedly contrasting with the single shades of the lagoon, interweave with fishing boats, that is what Burano makes so attractive.
First thing you notice in Burano is a harmony of colours that are splendidly featured in these peaceful townscapes.
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.
If you are in Venice be sure to take the time to visit the small island of Burano. It is a very colorful little island as you will see in the picture. Each home is painted a different color. Its about a 40 minute boat ride from Venice. We visited the island with a tour so i'm not sure how to do it otherwise, you may want to check with a travel center.
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, Mazzorbo, Torcello:
Excursion in the historic, artistic and popular heart of the north lagoon. An experience to be lived for an entire day, without hurry, with the mind open to discover the beauty and the signs of a long gone history of which this part of the lagoon has been witness. --- not as fancyful and artistic or posh as it's neighbouring Murano or Venice.....but a quiet beauty with quite a history that some overlook...
The island landscape of Burano, with its colors, its limpid light, its glares, the thousand boats moored and the squeri; the Lace Museum in Piazza Galuppi; the solitary landscape of Mazzorbo open on vast horizons; the beautiful Church of S. Caterina build in the XIV sec. and the public garden build in the old cemetery encircled by ancient walls; the Museum of the Estuary in Torcello and the splendid religious buildings of the island; the insular landscape made of hedges, uncultivated and small gardens besieged by the water.
Burano is not undiscovered but so many people who go to Venice do not bother with the islands. Burano is an hour away but its brilliantly coloured houses, the light, its calmess even when there are tourists is wonderful. Around every corner there is a photograph waiting to be taken. Even the touristy bit is OK. From Burano to Torcello is about 5 minutes and you can see where all this Venice thing started. Absolutely not to be missed if you have the time.