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Burano Island is a Venetian Treasure

Marilyn Jones 

Burano, with its brightly colored houses and businesses, is part of Venice but much removed from the crowds of St. Mark’s Square and the Rialto Bridge over the Grand Canal. It only takes a short water taxi ride across the Venetian Lagoon to get to this magical island with its gift shops, restaurants, and narrow canals.

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Historians believe the island was probably settled by the Romans in the sixth century. Most agree the houses were painted brilliant colors so fishermen could see their homes when they were far out to sea or to find them when they’d had a little too much to drink.

From the Burano dock I wander past several open-air booths selling traditional souvenirs. Along a narrow alleyway I come to a shop specializing in lacework. Burano is famous for its needle lace and a woman sits in the center of the shop surrounded by elegant lace tablecloths, lace-trimmed linens, and other finery. She meticulously creates another piece of lace artwork. Handmade lace is labor intensive and very expensive. La Perla Gallery is a good place to purchase Burano lace.

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It was in the 16th century that women began making lace. The lace was exported across Europe. Although the trade began to decline in the 18th century, in 1872 a school of lace making was opened. Lace making on the island boomed once again.

After watching the lacemaker for several minutes and admiring her talent, I head out along the canals and into neighborhoods to photograph the pink, red, blue, plum, yellow, peach, and golden houses; many trimmed in contrasting colors with flower boxes filled to overflowing.

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I wander along other boardwalks next to canals and stop for gelato before heading back to the dock to take the water taxi back to Venice and my hotel.

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Many Venice visitors make their way to Murano to see the famous glass being made, but try to also make time for Burano, a treasure of color and lace.

If you go:

Plan to spend at least half a day on Burano.

If you are traveling from throughout Italy or Europe, check out the Eurail passes. They provide a convenient and economical way to travel from city to city, including Venice.