On your next trip to Venice, don’t miss the opportunity to experience the unique island of Burano. This community has charm of its own with its brightly painted small houses that are the dream of artists and photographers. Located in the Venetian lagoon, Burano is just seven kilometers from Venice, or 40 minutes by vaporetto.
The island of Burano actually consists of four separate islands connected together by bridges. Originally a fishing village, Burano became famous as a lacemaking community in the 16th century. Although there is a school of lacemaking, few women perform this craft today, as it is very tedious and expensive.
An estimated 4000 to 7000 people live on this tiny island today, and they live inside their houses as well as outside, sometimes frying their fish and ironing their clothes in the streets. You will not find any overnight accommodations here, and the only restaurants are small trattorias and bars with outdoor seating areas. Burano is definitely a place with lots of ambience.
Burano is an easy place to explore on foot, with the main attraction being the brightly painted houses with clothes hanging out to dry. Around each corner the scene is more interesting than the last. With its narrow streets, there is basically one main street, called Calle Galuppi, and it is filled with shops and small cafes such as Bar Caffe Palmisano, where you can enjoy a cappuccino along with some of the famous Italian S-shaped cookies. Calle Galuppi is also a favorite with locals for their evening passeggiata and everyday socializing. The shops here also are painted in bright colors, keeping with the same tradition as the houses.
The colorful houses attract a lot of artists, and the famous French designer and artist Philippe Starck actually owns a home here. When a resident wishes to change the color of his home, he is required to submit the request to the government. There is a system in place to assure that variety continues in the colors, and so different areas of Burano have different color combinations. This identifies this tiny place as truly one of a kind, separating it from the other Venetian islands.
Tradition attributes the story behind the colorful houses to the local fishermen. Supposedly, they painted their houses bright colors, different from one another, so that they could see them when returning from the sea in the fog. This seems like it might have origins in truth, but no matter the reason, the houses in Burano make visiting this island an unforgettable memory.