We sail past the quaint ruins of a monastery waiting gracefully for it’s demise. In the distance we see an island packed with colorful homes and a tilted church tower, Burano.
We’re herded out of the water bus, vaporetto, in a tight pack but disperse as soon as we clear the dock. An orange colored restaurant sits opposite the dock, with tourists like ourselves sitting on the benches outside, eating lunch. It’s noon already and we should find someplace to eat, but we’re too distracted by the colorful and calm spirit of the island. We venture further inside the town.
Burano is an island sitting in the Venetian Lagoon, about 7 kilometers North-East of Venice. Subdivided into 6 areas, or sestiere, it’s mostly a residential area with a population of around 2800 people. Tourism has grown over the recent decades though and the town is getting more known for its colorful houses than its beautiful lace making.
The place feels almost like a baby sibling to Venice. It has the same fundamental setup of canals, bridges and tight alleys, but the houses are smaller, more colorful and there’s this sense of serenity floating over the place. It’s clear to us that people live here.
As we cross the small canal over one of the cute little bridges, we get closer to the oddly leaning campanile, bell tower, that somehow manages to remind people of the time despite it’s inaccurate perpendicularity to the ground. It reminds us of lunch. Finding a place to eat isn’t a problem however, the place is filled with family run restaurants homely inviting us to eat.
After lunch, we explore through the busier street of Burano, originally a canal but built over to become via e piazza Baldassarre Galuppi. The street is filled with restaurants and lace shops, each more beautiful than the other. Burano laceworking became renowned in the 15th century and stories say that even Louis XIV, the King of France, wore a Burano lace collar on his coronation day. We admire the work up close as we stroll between the shops, and make our way back to the canal.
After long and lazy moments of taking in the calm life of the island, we decide to make our way back to the dock for the vaporetto, back to Venice. We’re not in any hurry back and we use any excuse possible to stop and admire the location. Two people sit near the end of a street and paint the colorful houses alongside the canal, while a boat passes lazily under the bridge nearby.
The thought of just.. staying here, crosses the mind.
Burano, which derives it’s name either from the Buriana family or from Buranello, a small island to the south, rose in importance only in the 16th century, when women on the island began making lace with needles. The lace was soon exported across Europe, but trade began to decline in the 18th century and the industry did not revive until 1872, when a school of lacemaking was opened. Lacemaking on the island boomed again, but few now make lace in the traditional manner as it is extremely time-consuming and thus expensive.
Our vaporetto is here and we’re herded back on board with about three dozens of tourists. We’re in luck, we get to sit! On our way back to Venice, we marvel over the same old ruins, slowly crumbling into the lagoon. Which wondrous stories does the island of Madonna del Monte hold?