Have a rainbow-colored journey in Burano

If you’re planning on a day trip and want to see something unique and colorful away from Venice, Italy, then Burano is your sure next destination. Just a boat away from the city, Burano is a charming island town with picturesque postcard-ready, rainbow-colored houses that attract millions of tourists every year.

After spending a couple of days in Venice, my husband and I didn’t want to do the same activities as it was already our third time in the city; hence he looked up and found Burano. This island in Venice instantly made me fall in love with it, and I couldn’t stop taking pictures here and there!

Burano is known for its rainbow-colored houses. Burano presents another side of life in the Venetian lagoon.

Multi-colored houses

Most visitors are captivated by Burano’s brightly colored houses, and its boat-filled canals. Burano has a genuine feel, offering another side of life in the Venetian lagoon through its historic fishing village.

Since the Roman times, fishing has been the main livelihood in Burano as the marshlands are not suitable to farming. Nets, harpoons and the “chebe,” a type of  cage, were the traditional fishing tools used by the local fishermen. During the early times, fish was bartered for products such as wheat, wood, and wine and this kind of trading has been in practice for centuries.

But why paint the houses with bright colors, you may ask. This custom is said to portray the island’s heritage as a fishing village; the vivid colors help the fishermen recognize their homes through the thick fog in the lagoon upon returning home from a long day out in the sea. Moreover, the Burano residents utilize the bright colors to mark one’s property.

Local fishermen recognize their homes through its colors. As a traditional fishing village, Burano’s attractions have vintage charms.

While fishing nowadays is still the primary means of livelihood for the locals in Burano, the number of fishermen has decreased on the island, and around 450 are congregated in a cooperative.

Fresh fish caught by the fishermen are sold at Buranelli in the lagoon at Rialto Market daily, which we happened to pass by during our trip. Unfortunately, the sun was high, the fish were already sold, and the market had already been closed, so we missed all the action.

Lacey town

Burano is also known for intricate laces, something unknown to most tourists. Lacemaking is very famous craft in Burano, which dates back to 1500s. Beautiful laces were made by noblewomen in the privacy of their homes and even become their signature laces that were recognized in banquet halls and courts across the continent. In the following centuries, these handmade pieces had to compete with machine-made ones, lower quality items, and fashion trends. In the 18th century, the beautiful laces competed against the Flemish and French designs. Nowadays, while laces are mostly machine made, you can still see local women quietly handcrafting laces, driven by passion.

Aside from fishing, Burano boasts of its hand crafted laces.

When in Burano, I highly recommend a visit to the lace museum, Museo del Merletto. After your visit, you’ll know what type of lace you can purchase as a souvenir, from Barbole of the 1600s-1800s to the blonde or bobbins, originally from France, dating back in mid-1700s, among many others.

Leaning Bell Tower

Another go-to spot in Burano is its leaning bell tower. Although not as renowned as the one in Pisa, the former bell tower of the 17th century San Martino Church can be an excellent site for awesome pictures, too! Local stories tell that during a storm in 1867, an angel fell on top of the leaning tower and it was crowned by that angel. Now, an iron cross had been installed in its place. The leaning bell tower has a square plan of 6.20 meters wide at the bottom and 63 meters high, and is attributed to the architect Andrea Tirali who built it between 1703 and 1714.

I really like Burano. For me, it’s one of the prettiest little villages I’ve been to in Italy. So the next time you plan a trip to Italy, try to get lost on one of the most colorful islands of Burano.

The author by the leaning bell tower of San Martino Church.

Side trips

After Burano, you can take a side trip to Murano that is just one stop away and only around 10 minutes by the ferry bus. Murano is known for its glass-making factories, where you can take home some exquisite glasses. Or, you can also check out some glass-making factories where they offer some workshops.

You can also cross the wooden bridge and drop by Mazzorbo, a small island located next to Burano. The place is remarkably less crowded and quieter than its more known neighbor, Murano. This will give you an opportunity to explore the vicinity for its distinctive charm. In Mazzobo, do try dining in or tasting some of the country’s most delicious wines.

Image credits: Catherine Kaiser