Burano – Venice’s quirky little sister!

Last week I spent a few days in Venice, Italy. A beautiful and regal place, full of gorgeous architecture, atmospheric walkways, and an unsurmountable amount of style and class. It’s an absolute must-visit for every traveller, known for being the city which is slowly drowning into its surrounding lagoons… A tragically stunning place, which seems intent on its temporariness. A fleeting beauty in the history of our little blue planet.

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As most of you should know, there are over 100 islands that comprise Venice, so no, it’s not just one island. The whole archipelago is divided into 6 boroughs, with the main one being the historic city, which is once again subdivided into another six areas called sestieri. These sex sestieri are the most popularly visited by tourists; they contain the historical centre of the city, with all the art, museums, cathedrals and churches that come with it. Even so, there are another three little archipelagos which are commonly visited by foreigners when in Venice: Murano, Torcello and Burano. Murano being well known for its globally famous Murano glass works, having about 5000 inhabitants with a still fairly busy glass making economy (helped out by tourism of course), whilst Torcello is nearly completely uninhabited, housing an impressive byzantine cathedral, a little “devil’s” bridge and a cool looking ancient stone throne, known as Attila’s throne (no relation to Attila the Hun from what I gather – although that would have made it much cooler in my opinion). Burano, is set close to Torcello, but is unlike any other island or city I have visited in Europe as of yet!

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Burano is made out of four little islands, connected together via bridges, very much like central Venice, and having approximately 3000 inhabitants. Unlike the historical centre though, Burano is one of the most colourful and vibrant places in the world! All the buildings on the archipelago are painted in a bright, eye-catching colour scheme! This house-painting tradition has been going on for decades and is now an official thing, with any new home builders having to apply for permission for painting of their house. The government would then send them a list of appropriately allocated colours for their building, which they must comply to.

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As one of the islands’ main trades is fishing, legend has it that the first inhabitants of Burano were fishermen. They decided to paint their homes in bright colours, so they could see them when they were out at sea. Apparently the other villagers took a liking to this idea, turning the place into a colourful spectrum of different hued houses and bridges (must have made life that more difficult for the fishermen, now every house is bright!!).

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Apart from the great sea food, freshly and locally caught of course; Burano is also very well known for fine lace making – the main craftsmanship attraction. There’s a small Lace museum (Il Museo del Merletto) for those who which to know more about this delicate craft. There are also a few miniature glass making factories in the area which one might be interested in visiting, especially if not visiting Murano. Make sure to have a look at the leaning bell tower at the back of San Martino Bishop’s Church! It’s adorable! Even though all the houses of Burano are colourful, there is one in particular which beats them all. The house of Bepi Suà is decorated with geometric forms of any type such as circles, squares, triangles, all dyed in different colours, creating a busy, geometric work of art which is now displayed on postcards of Burano all over the world! Make sure to take a photo with the most colourful house in Burano! It is the most famous of them all! The house is quite easy to find as it’s just around the square of Burano, and is reachable by a very narrow street, which leads to a small square in which the Bepi’s place is quite evident!

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Getting to Burano is fairly simple. It’s about 11km away from the main centre, and you can reach the islands via the ACTV public service ferry – which takes about 45 minutes. You could also book a boat tour for the day, which usually includes a trip to Murano and Torcello.

I visited on a cold, wet and gloomy day, so my photos aren’t as bright as one would expect. Even so, my visit was a welcome and cheery diversion to an otherwise very damp and possibly depressing day (wet feet are depressing, believe you me!).

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Burano is just a great place to visit if you’re in Venice. It’s quiet and laid back village setting just adds to its colourful charm. Have a bite to eat at the local restaurants – the food is authentic, delicious and very fresh – and just enjoy the cheery, relaxing vibe this lovely place has to offer!

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