Mediterranean · Destinations
March 26, 2020 Words: Stephen Milioti

The Scoop on Burano

At once vibrant and relaxed, this Venetian island is ripe for exploration

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An island in Northern Italy’s Venetian lagoon, Burano is only 4 miles from Venice (and a 40-minute trip by vaporetto, or Venetian water bus), but it feels like a world away. Distinguished by bright hues everywhere you look, it’s a vibrant ode to a simpler time, and a perfect place to spend a day recharging and reconnecting. Here are some of the sights and sounds you can’t miss when exploring this gem of an island.

The Basics

Burano’s a year-round destination, but like nearby Venice, it’s most popular with travelers in summer — no surprise given the warm, sunny weather (high temps in June through August range from 78 to 83 degrees F (25-28 C). Despite that, many find spring and fall (particularly late April to May, and September to mid-October) to be an even better time to go, with fewer crowds, and temps still warm, with average high temps of around 70 degrees F (21 C).

History

Likely settled by the Romans, Burano was occupied in the 6th century by people from Altino, and it became a thriving settlement not long after. In the 16th century, it gained its claim to fame that stands to this day: women (originally from Venetian-ruled Cyprus) made intricate lace with needles. Leonardo da Vinci even purchased a lace cloth there from the Duomo di Milano’s main altar. Head to the island’s Museo del Merletto (the lace museum) — an ode to an important part of Burano’s history — to learn more about the craft. Lace-making is also a highlight of the UNESCO Partner Tour of Burano offered through Seabourn.

The Main Attraction

By far, the island’s defining feature is found everywhere you look: its brightly colored houses. The homes’ candy-colored hues make for a photo-worthy moment at every turn, and there’s a longstanding history behind their beauty: the colors follow codes established centuries ago, and if someone wishes to paint their lot, they’re required to send a request to the government, who will advise as to the particular colors allowed for that home. Almost every building in the city is decked out in a vibrant hue — from carnation pink to deep orange to aqua blue. The bright colors are said to date back to the island’s history as a fishing village, allowing for fishermen returning home to be able to see their homes in the lagoon’s thick fog.

More to See & Do

Head to the island’s main street, Via Galuppi, and you’ll be right in the center of it all, with restaurants, pastry shops, and boutiques galore. And naturally, lace is one of the main wares in town. Note: if it’s inexpensive, it’s not the real thing: Burano lace is extremely intricate and the price reflects it. To be sure you’re getting the real deal, head to Martina Vidal, a three-story atelier with lace clothing, housewares, gifts, and more (you’ll also have the treat of seeing craftswomen make the incredibly intricate lace live). And when it’s time for a memorable meal, look no further than Burano’s most famous restaurant, Trattoria al Gatto Nero, where you can dine on incredibly fresh seafood and handmade pasta in the cozy setting.

Once you’ve shopped away and had some refreshments, take one of the island’s boat tours, which will detail the island’s history as a fishing town, as well as its commitment to sustainable tourism that ensures its iconic beauty is unspoiled.

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