FULLY UPDATED ON 19/03/2021
My visit to the colourful fishing island of Burano on a gloriously sunny first day of May was intensely overwhelming. And not all due to its flamboyant hues.
It was standing room only on the vaporetto ride from Venice, as well as in the restaurants around the Piazza Galuppi. I explored some relatively quieter side streets and then picked up a surprisingly well made crumbed fish panini and escaped to a bench on the sea front.
The May Day hordes here contributed muchly to my appreciation of tranquil Torcello later that afternoon.
The island’s multicoloured building facades, however, were well worth braving the crowds for. Although I couldn’t help thinking I would likely have painted my house a boring white if I were one of its three thousand hapless residents!
I only discovered later that painting one’s house on Burano isn’t a matter of personal choice. It requires prior permission and is restricted to a list of permissible colours. So white might not be an option at all.
Why is Burano as colourful as it is? There are several theories to explain those rainbow hues.
One claims the vibrant skyline almost acted like a lighthouse in guiding the fishermen back home. A second, that the distinctive colours made it easier for the fishermen to identify their individual houses.
A third, rather morbid theory, claimed that individual facades matched the colours of the owner’s boats and when a fisherman was lost at sea they knew ‘which door to knock on’!
Born sceptic that I am, I think someone decided to splash leftover paint on all the facades one jobless day and the residents loved it so much, it stayed. Your pick!
Is it worth visiting Burano? It absolutely is!
Picking a quieter time will likely go a long way in making the experience more enjoyable. I recommend getting there just before sunset, a time when day-trippers are replaced by local families in town squares all along the Veneto. Also,that’s when the light will be optimal to capture all those glowing colours.
PLAN YOUR DAY-TRIP TO BURANO
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WHAT TO DO IN BURANO?
The top thing to do is to stroll along the three canals of Burano, over the Tre Ponti bridge so popular with Instagrammers, Corte Comare, Terrenova’s bridge, and back through Piazza Galuppi where the Church of San Martino boasts Burano’s own leaning tower. But don’t forget to wander off into the parts where the vibrance night be dimmed, a bit, but the atmosphere is truer to the island’s trade
Next, is to get an understanding of the lace making traditions that date back to the 14th century. Burano lace was once prized by nobility across Europe but has since been reduced to local souvenir status. You’ll find women showcasing their skills in shops along Via Galuppi. Much of the products on display are machine made. La Perla (Via Galuppi 376) stocks a reasonable variety of hand made lace products.
The Lace Museum is a worthwhile stop if interested in antique lace and textile. It was, sadly, closed during my visit for May Day.
Crossing the footbridge to stroll through Mazzorbo is one more thing to do if you have time to spare.
Here’s a handy guide by yhe official Burano site for those who prefer a structured itinerary.
Allow 2 – 3hrs depending on your interest in photography and museums. And food!
ADMISSION FEES TO THE LACE MUSEUM
TICKET: Adults: €5,00. Children aged from 6 to 14; students aged from 15 to 25; visitors over 65; holders of the Rolling Venice Card; holders of ISIC €3,50. Free entry for the disabled and their helpers.
BEST TIME TO VISIT BURANO
Summers are over crowded. Spring and fall are the best times to visit.
Ideal time of day, as mentioned above, is early morning or just before sunset.
HOW TO GET FROM VENICE TO BURANO
The no.12 vaporetto departing from the Fondamenta Nove station (Fte Nove) connects Venice to Burano via Murano and Mazzorbo. It departs from line A, but do confirm in advance. The journey takes approx. 45 min
No. 14, departs from the Zaccaria station. The station is more centrally located, but the ferry schedules are less frequent and slower by 15-20 min. Your choice, for the return journey in particular, might depend on your plans for the evening.
For the return from Burano: No 14 ideparts from Stop A and no.12 from Stop C.
Use vaporetto no.9 for the 5 min ride from Burano to Torcello. For the reverse journey you can use either no.9 or no.12.
FARES: A single vaporetto journey is pricey at €7.50. Travelcards for the duration of your stay are a much better option. My 7 day travelcard was most useful for island hopping. If not opting for a multi-day card, recommend a 12 hr travelcard at €18.00 for Burano and Torcello, or a 1 day card at €20.00 for all three islands.
Tickets and/or Travelcards can be purchased at ticket vending machines in the stations as well as manned ticket booths. There’s usually at least one in every station.
Remember cards/tickets need to be validated at machines at the departure stations. Failing to do so will incur a fine of €60.00 in addition to the price of a single ticket.
WHERE TO EAT & STAY IN BURANO
STAY: Burano is generally visited on a day-trip from Venice. There are a handful of modern properties to choose from on the island and on Mazzorbo next door. Find one to suit your budget from this filtered list.
EAT: Burano is packed with seafood restaurants. I’d avoid those around the Piazza Galuppi. I popped into Bar Ciccheteria Da GigettoI and it seemed lovely with its canal facing terrace. I wasn’t hungry enough for a full meal so I grabbed an excellent crumbed fish panini from one of the takeaway spots on the road leading away from the square towards the canals. On hindsight, I should have returned for an evening meal.
If you are looking for a special meal, consider reserving ahead at Trattoria al Gatto Nero (closed Mondays)
Here’s another handy guide by the official Burano site that offers some excellent suggestions including pizzerias and bakeries (for the essi and bussolai biscuit specialties): Eating Out Around Burano & Venice