Located 64 kilometers from greater Venice is the island of Burano; historically famous for its production of hand-woven lace and thread. Made up of 4 small islands connected to each other by various canals and bridges, Burano covers an area of only 20 hectares. Its small size makes it really easy to tour its streets and important landmarks on a day trip from Venice. You will find many transportation and excursion options to explore both Burano and Murano.
However, don't be fooled. This small set of islands may not be the most action-packed place on earth, but they make up for it with their particular charm and brilliance. Want to know which places you absolutely must see in Burano? Let's get started!
1. Tour of the Burano Lace Museum
Burano is famous for its lace as Murano is for its glass, although the lace artisans on this island date back to ancient times, it was really from the nineteenth century that Burano lace enjoyed the interest of the Italian community beyond the small island.
The history of lace in Burano evolved along with the history of the island dating back to 1872, at which time the talented lace maker Vincenza Memo was asked to teach the secrets of her art as a way of boosting the local economy.
In this space you can find important collections of lace with hundreds of unique examples dating from different periods but mainly from the sixteenth and twentieth centuries. Although the school was closed, professional training courses are organized inside the museum for all those interested in this millenary art.
2. Attend a live demonstration of the art of lace making.
Lace stores are curious spaces that exhibit a picturesque touch but also awe-inspiring displays of talent in this subtle art. Similar to what happens in the Lace Museum, you will witness the creation of beautiful embroidery with tools as seemingly simple as thread and needle. The most fun part of visiting the lace stores in Burano is being able to witness live one of the local weavers creating the pieces in front of your eyes with breathtaking care.
These types of presentations have become traditional on the island so in every lace store you will come across such a demonstration. Obviously, after watching the show you may be more inclined to buy.
3. Marvel at the colorful houses of Burano.
During a trip to Burano from Venice it is totally worth stopping to walk through the narrow streets of the town to admire the colorful houses, which stand out under the blue sky in a variety of pastel and bright colors.
Burano and its colorful houses are a tourist attraction of the island along with its lace artisans, however the story behind why is more interesting than you might imagine.According to the locals the facades of the houses were all painted in different colors as a way to guide the fishermen who worked from sunrise to sunset and in the most intrepid climates in the mist. When returning home, the colored facades make it easier to find the way back.
4. Visit Casa Bepi
On your visit to Murano you should pay special attention to the beautiful house of Bepi Suà, known to all as Casa Bepi. Although the colored houses in Burano were something established as a matter of practicality, it would be Giuseppe Toselli, who would give this unique feature the tourist attraction that we know today.
Toselli, fond of painting, decided to make his house the most colorful in all of Burano. Every year he painted his facade with different colors and patterns, so it became a kind of game for visitors to go and see the new colors of Casa Bepi; this tradition continued until his death in 1985.
For two decades the colorful facade fell into neglect but since 2005 one of Toselli's vibrant fantasies was chosen to enliven the facade again and give it back some of its luster.
5. Visit the bridges of Burano
Not only on the island of Venice you can find beautiful bridges, when it comes to this type of structure Burano also has its curiosities. You can take advantage of your trip to Burano to visit its bridges, especially the one known as Tre Ponti Bridge; whose name derives from its particular and ingenious structure. Strategically placed at the junction of three islands, the bridge connects each of them through its three staircases.
Like greater Venice, Burano is made up of small islands connected by bridges; these islands are: San Mauro, Giudecca (in Venice there is also a neighborhood with the same name), San Martino Sinistra, San Martino Destra and Terranova.To get to Tre Ponti from the pier you will have to go straight across Viale Marcello.
6. Stop for a bite to eat the delights of Burano
After touring canals, bridges and museums take some time to have a nice lunch at one of the many establishments you will find on your wanderings around Burano. If you want some inspiration consider the following establishments...
Trattoria al Gatto Nero: Ideal for enjoying traditional Venetian food. The restaurant is open from Tuesday to Sunday for lunch and dinner; if you call in advance you can reserve a table with a view of the Grand Canal.
Trattoria da Primo: Upon entering this establishment you will find a huge canteen-style dining room and a beautiful décor that alludes to the hull of a boat. Trattoria da Primo is one of the locals' favorite establishments and ideal for tasting typical Venetian dishes such as fish risotto from Gó.
7. Taste the bussolai, the typical sweet of the island
The traditional Venetian cookies known as Bussolà, originate from the small island of Burano; so on a tour of the island you should make time to try this tasty snack made with the original recipe and in a much more traditional way. If you like, accompany them with a wine and take some with you for later.
Made with flour, butter and eggs, they have a characteristic hole in the center that makes them similar to donuts. The bussolà are cookies that are very well preserved, it is said that in times when food was scarce, the fishermen's wives prepared the cookies in large quantities; with the intention of helping the sailors to endure the endless days of work at sea.
8. Visit the Leaning Tower of Burano
Like the famous Pisa, Burano has its own Leaning Tower that you should not miss on a tour of the island and its beautiful architecture. Actually more than a tower is the bell tower of the only church in the city; the temple was erected in honor of St. Martin in the sixteenth century, the bell tower with its 53 meters high was built between 1703 and 1714.
The reason for the inclination of the bell tower is due to the pillars used in the base of the building, which over time began to sag to one side. By the 1970s the structure was stabilized, stopping the threat; today the bell tower is quite safe and is part of one of the many curiosities that you can find on the island.
9. Walk around Baldassarre Galuppi Square
The only square on the island of Burano is called Piazza Baldassarre Galuppi. It is a large open space dominated by several important buildings: the church of San Martino Vescovo, the lace museum, the Santa Barbara Chapel and the town hall building. In the middle of the square we find the traditional well (as in most Venetian squares), you will also find the flagpole of St. Mark and the statue of Baldassarre Galuppi himself.
It is a nice place to sit and enjoy the good weather, take pictures of the beautiful buildings and meet the vendors in street stalls that always circulate around the place.
10. Visit the Fish Market
Crossing Tre Ponti to the island of San Martino Sinistra you will come across another important place: the Burano Fish Market. Consisting of a small open-air square, it is the island's traditional market and is still used today for the display of products. Its strategic location near the canal makes it the ideal space for fishermen venturing into the salt lagoon to easily arrive with fresh produce to serve the population. Along the square there are at least twenty stalls displaying fresh fish for sale.
It is important not to confuse the Fish Market with the Pescaderia Vecia, which serves the same purpose and is equally well known in and around Burano. This fish market is located on the island of Giudecca.
11. See the town hall building
Located right next to the Museum of Lace is the building of the town hall of Burano; its facade, a little rickety, gives it a particular and charming aspect. It is one level higher than the structure of the Museum and therefore stands out slightly from it.
The old building presents the typical materials of Burano buildings: the use of brick in the main structure and the use of profiles made of Istrian stone to highlight the holes in the walls. The brick on the first level is in its natural state, but the following levels are still covered with plaster in a pale pink tone. The simple interplay of windows and openings on the facade is quite picturesque.
12. Take a walking tour to Mazzorbo
If you are a lover of food and wine, a quick stroll through the vineyards in Mazzorbo is something you should consider on your visit to Burano. Known as the Venisssa Estate, it is a walled vineyard where a type of grape native to the island of Venice known as dorona is grown. Long ago the large island of Venice was covered with this and other crops before the inhabitants of Torcello, Burano and Mazzorbo decided to start building their houses and palaces there.
From Burano getting to Mazzorbo is very simple; you just need to take the Via San Mauro bridge that connects the two islands. From the center of Burano the walk will take you only 15 minutes.