With all there is to see in Venice you may wonder if it is worth making time for a trip to Burano. In this article, we share why we believe Burano island of colours and lace should be part of your Italian itinerary.
One of the prettiest and most atmospheric places we have visited in Italy is the small island of Burano, near Venice.
Tiny and unassuming, Burano sits in the Venetian lagoon and is famous for the ancient craft of lace making, as well as its chocolate box, picture-perfect look, made of colourful houses and romantic canals.
We visited Burano in December, at a time when the cold enters your bones and the short winter days make the daylight scarce but sharp.
It was one of the highlights of our trip to Venice and this is why we are now sharing our tops from visiting.
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How to get to Burano from Venice
Burano is a small island in the lagoon surrounding the city of Venice. It is well connected to the city by regular ferries departing from Venice ‘Fondamenta nuove’.
The ferries have a first stop on the bigger and closer island of Murano and then head to Burano and sometimes Torcello, immediately further out. The trip takes approximately 40 minutes.
You can visit the small island of Burano in a matter of hours. This means that you can easily include it in your Venice itinerary even if only spending a couple of days in the area.
You can either have a full day on the lagoon and visit both Burano and Murano (many good ours offer this option) or spend the morning in Venice city centre and then come here for the afternoon.
Options to consider:
Glimspe of Murano, Burano, Torcello: 4.5 hours tour
Murano Glass ans Burano lace experience: 5 hour tour
You can also make your own way to Burano boarding the ‘vaporino’ at Fondamenta Nuove: tickets are available at the local ticket kiosks or you can take the stress away getting hold of the Venice card before you go.
Things to do in Burano
The island of Burano is a one of those places whee there is not much ‘to do’ as such: while there are some attractions and tours you can take to fill up your day here, the best way to enjoy the island is just to stroll around, soak up the atmosphere and let the magic of the place let you mind wander.
So while I organised this list as a sequence of things to do, I recommend you use it more to gauge what to expect from the island rather than a full on itinerary or a Burano must-see checklist.
Enjoy the rainbow that are Buranos’ houses
The most distinctive trait of the island of Burano are its colourful houses. You get a first glimpse of them as soon as you get off the ferry but they are everywhere.
Unlike other locations, where you need to scout out the instagram-worthy corner, Burano is all made of these low rise, bright coloured houses and you can stroll around any of its meandering streets to fill your eyes with their rainbow colours.
The houses are said to be coloured this way for a practical reason: Burano is surrounded by the lagoon and many of its inhabitants in the past would get their livelihood from fishing.
While you are at sea, seeing your house from the distance can be hard and the bright facades helped identify your home from far away.
Looking at the architecture of Burano, this explanations seems indeed very likely.
Aside from the colours, the houses in Burano are all very similar and without distinctive details: they tend to all have a square facade and 2 or 3 stories so the colours indeed are helpful to identity which belongs to which family.
Learn the story of Bepi, his house and his love for cinema
Burano houses have facades each painted in one solid colour. All of them except one: the house that used to belong to ‘Bepi’, a Burano inhabitant so well known and loved by the locals he has now gone down in the history of the island by his pet name only (his full name was Giuseppe Toselli).
Bepi’s house is in Corte del Pistor and you cannot miss it: unlike any other house on the island, the house has many colours as Bepi used to sit outside it every day painting in and decorating it with geometrical shapes and patterns.
The house is lovely to look at but what makes it special is the personality of its creator.
Apparently, Bepi was a huge cinema lover and during his life used to hang a white sheet outside of its windows and project movies on them.
Children and adults alike would gather in front of his house for the show and watched cartoons, Laurel and Hardy sketches, Ridolini’s movies and more!
Piazza Galluppi, Burano’s only square
Burano is a tiny island and in its centre sits the main square, the only one in the whole town. This is a lovely space and despite its small size has a nice selection of cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops that make for a pleasant stroll.
Visit the lace museum
Burano is famous for the ancient craft of lace making and the island embraces this tradition with open arms. Everywhere along its streets you can find shops selling beautiful lace and you can also visit the local museum and witness how this delicate materiel comes to life.
The tradition of lace making dates back to medieval times and it is said to have its roots into the skills of the fishermen of the islands in repairing their nets.
Originally linked to ensuring the livelihood of families relying on the daily catch for eating and trade, the ability to manipulate nets and sow slowly moved to the creating of lace and it developed to such an extent to acquire a life of its own.
After reaching maturity in Burano, the tradition spread around the world via the successful printing tradition of Venice which brought its fame to faraway land.
The lace of Burano exploded as a trend is the 1400 and over the course of the centuries stayed highly sought after specially after the adoption of its elegant decorations by the Tudor family in England!
If you feel like a snack, one of the best things you can do in Burano is to stop in one of the island’s many cafes and ask for buranelli. Buranelli are small biscuits with a base of flour, butter and eggs and are a nice accompaniment to a cup of tea or coffee or, depending on your taste, a glass of passito.
Buranelli are a specialty of the island and while originally an Easter treat, they can now be found year round.
Our local friends from Wanderjack told us the place to have them is the bakery of Palmisano Carmelina and if they say it, we are sure it is true!
Check out the leaning tower of burano
The leaning bell tower of Burano is not quite as well known or as impressive as the more famous tower of Pisa. However, it is undeniable crooked!
The tower was built in the 1700s and showed the first sign of poor stability soon after its construction. Despite structural works to make it straighter, this campanile is visibly still leaning on one side and makes for a fun stop – kids in particular love to see it especially since, unlike Pisa, they are unlikely to have heard of it.
Cross the bridge into Mazzorbo
Mazzorbo is a small island located just beside Burano and connected to it by a wooden bridge. Few tourists take the time to cross over to Mazzorbo and this means the island is even quieter than its neighbour. However, it has a distinctive charm and feels very far away from the crazy circus the streets of Venice sometimes become.
In Mazzorbo you have artichoke fields, vineyards and fruit trees as well as a playground for the kids and the local cemetery, almost to prove that the Venice lagoon is indeed still a real and authentic place if we take the time to stray off the most beaten track!
Where to stay in Burano
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