Burano: A Small Italian Island With Huge Traditions
n addition to Murano and Torcello, this island on the Venetian Lagoon should not be missed. Loved (and widely photographed) by tourists, it is famous for its colourful houses, butter biscuits and above all, its handcrafted lace.
A little less famous than its twin, Murano – the island of glass, with which it is often confused, due to the similar names (only the first letter changes), lace, in no way inferior to its sibling’s blown glass, has made tiny Burano famous. With a population of only three thousand inhabitants, its colourful houses make it is one of the most picturesque places on earth.
Thank heavens for smartphones! The idea of arriving on Burano and realizing that you’ve forgotten your camera could be a catastrophe. The island’s row of houses, whose facades boast all the colours of the rainbow, are truly spectacular! However, the origin of this tradition of painting the houses in bright colours was not only for aesthetic reasons. Legend has it that its fishermen, often confused by frequent banks of fog (and, truth be told, by the amount of liqueur consumed to keep them warm…), devised a chromatic code that would help them identify their own landing piers more easily after a long day’s fishing. Each colour corresponded to a family, to their house and to their address.
Burano’s brightly-coloured houses are not the only thing worth admiring.
The island is the capital of handmade lace, a craft kept alive for centuries by the wives of fishermen waiting for their husbands to return from sea. The work is extremely exacting, with each woman specializing in a single stitch. Since there are seven stitches in total, each piece is passed from woman to woman to finish. Groups of women work diligently for days to produce items, whether large or small, of matchless beauty: trims for dresses, accessories, tablecloths, gloves, umbrellas and masks, all made from this delicate, white lace, crafted with a painstaking attention to detail that has lasted for centuries.
For example, though it can take up to five months to make a rectangular tablecloth for 12 people, the island’s lace makers are now equipped to deliver your item of choice to anywhere in the world. (Please note: since an authentic, handcrafted item takes hours of work, you need to be cautious if the price seems too low. The risk that the lace is not handmade and not even Venetian is now a sad reality). While on the island, make sure to visit the Museum of Lace-Making to understand why something so exquisite should not become extinct (Burano, Piazza Baldassarre Galuppi, 187).
BISCUITS AND OTHER SWEET TREATS
Butter biscuits known as Buronelli (either ring or S-shaped), are famous on the island and you will be offered them wherever you go. However, this is not the only specialty that you’ll find. The island has a long-standing gastronomic tradition linked, above all, to fresh fish. Here is our pick, among the many, of several historic eateries. Da Romono (famed for its ‘risotto di Gp’); Da Ruggero of Gotto Nero (all the pastas and desserts are made in-house, and the fish is so fresh and delicious that even Jamie Oliver has recommended Al Gatto Nero on his television show); and finally Ai Pescatori e Dal Vecio Pipa. Bon Apetit!
HOW TO REACH BURANO
One Vaporetto line runs from Venice to Burano: the number 12. The journey lasts for approximately one hour after embarking at the Fondamente Nove stop (the Vaporetto runs at 10 minutes past and 20 minutes to the hour). If you’re not in a hurry, the Venetians recommend another alternative: you can take the 14 line from San Zaccaria (the Pieta stop), which stops at the Lido. It’s a good opportunity to take a look at the venue where the Film Festival is held, and admire the works by MOSE, the huge hydraulic engineering project completed to protect the Lagoon.