What to do in Burano? Everybody knows the beautiful and full of colors island of Burano, in the Venetian Lagoon. If you have already been there, you know that it can be quite a journey to reach it via vaporetto. Therefore, it is a great idea to also spend the night there, and having the chance to enjoy its atmosphere at sunset, when the majority of tourists go back to Venice. I had the pleasure of being invited to stay at Casa Burano and to experience some activities during my two days there. (At the end of the post you can also watch the video of my experience).
What to do in Burano
1 Visit some lace shops
I visited three of them. In all three you will be able to admire a kind lady of the place while showing off her skill in embroidery.
The owner’s great-grandmother ran one of the lace schools here in Burano. has a nice museum at the end of the shop. Among the fans, one belonged to King Sun. Another crazy piece is a wedding dress all worked with a needle from the 1700s. Still, the bedspread embroidered by Countess Maria Walevska for Napoleon’s son.
Right next door, there is Emilia Burano, the oldest shop, started in 1800 by the great-grandmother of the owners, Emilia. Even here you can admire a small museum section. All the staff members were super kind. I saw an adorable tablecloth with Venetian palaces. They also have a boutique in Venice at the Cipriani hotel.
Martina Vidal’s shop is different. Huge. With a rear garden worthy of a Venetian palace, a small terrace at the top of the building from which to admire the beauty of the island. And three floors, dedicated to bed linen, household linen and clothing.
Sergio, brother of Martina, showed me the whole store, the fabrics, the little corner-museum. I found an extreme refinement and elegance, both in furniture and in the items on sale.
! But before visiting the shops, maybe better to visit the Lace Museum to better understand the importance, quality and difficulties of making the true Burano lace. For example, a tablecloth requires the work of a year of 7 different ladies. Because, except for the masters, the other ladies specialise only in one specific stitch. Impressive, eh?
2 Follow the colors
Take pictures of the many colorful houses scattered in the whole island. One of the most photographed spots is the so called Treponti, meaning three bridges. Three bridges in fact cross here. But I prefer the simple view from the side of the canal, to be honest. I also love the leaning bell tower. Another highlight is la Casa di Bepi, Bepi’s house.
Bepi used to work at the local cinema. When the cinema closed, he started selling candies in the main square. But his passion for cinema led him to organize outdoor cinema for kids, hanging a white sheet on the facade of his house. He was also a painting aficionado and he often painted a new shape on his house’s wall. To reach it from the main street leading to the cathedral, turn left in the narrow Calle del Pistor, between Bar Caffè Palmisano and Casa del Merletto.
3 Walk along Venissa’s vineyard
Mazzorbo and Burano are connected by a wooden bridge. Past the bridge you’ll see a wall and a door. Go past it and you’ll be in Venissa’s garden already. Around you, vegetables, fruit trees, the famous Dorona vineyard, the campanile. At the end of the path, Venissa estate with the Michelin starred restaurant, the Osteria Contemporanea and the hotel.
4 Find out that there’s Murano glass in Burano too
If you want to purchase some Murano Glass items, you can visit the small shop New Arte Fuga. There’s a tiny corner where sometimes you can see the owner at work.
5 A boat trip with Domenico
It was surely one of the most interesting things I did in my two days in Burano. Why did I love it? Because I realized I didn’t know the majority of things Domenico told me. So it was utterly interesting. I don’t want to spoil anything but he told me lots of facts, stories and legends about the area. He brought me also to his fishing spot in the lagoon, where I could see for myself the nets and the techniques he and his colleagues use, that are still the same of the native Venice.
We started at 9.30 am for the excursion. He was up since 4, cause he had to check on the net. And, you see, in this part of the lagoon, there are no navigation signs or lights. You have to drive the boat by heart. No problem for Domenico, who pilots the boat since when he was a kid, basically.
At that time, he told me, he and his friends used to dive from Burano and swim to San Francesco del Deserto in search of fruit. Sometimes the friars, who dwell the island, tried to catch them. But the kids were too quick and wooosh… they were swimming back home already.
Domenico is now one of the last 20 fishermen of the island. No young man wants to be a fisherman anymore. So this is sadly another part of Venice that is going to disappear. It is a hard job, and the lagoon is not rich in fish like it used to be once. But, he told me, when he is out on the boat at dawn and he sees the sun rising on the sea, with the view of Burano and its colors, and, a bit further, the shape of St. Mark’s bell tower, he feels at peace. He knows he’s in the right place.
I warmly suggest a tour with him. He doesn’t speak English but you can arrange a tour with a tourist guide who can translate for you and explain everything. You will see and hear things that tourists normally don’t get to see. Moreover you’ll help out Domenico. If you stay at Venissa or Casa Burano (see below), the staff will arrange a tour for you. Otherwise you can contact them directly at at pescaburano.it
Where to stay in Burano
Casa Burano is a so called “albergo diffuso”, a “decentralized hotel”, i.e. a type of hotel with a central reception area (Venissa in this case) and rooms in buildings scattered around a town. My room was on the top floor of a lovely yellow house just around the corner of the old Pescheria, the fishmonger’s. Actually, I spotted a fish shop just in front of the house the morning of my departure.
As a continuation of the recovery operation undertaken in Venissa, the Bisol family decided also to acquire 5 houses in Burano. If you visit the island, you will notice many “For sale” signs. Population getting older and young people leaving the island are two causes for this situation.
The houses have been renovated, with collaborations of the most renowned design and decor firms of the Veneto region. For example, the floors of the entryways of each house is by Orsoni, the only remaining manufacturer of varnish and enamel in Venice. Orsoni company is active since 1888 and produced components for St. Mark’s Basilica mosaics.
This was in fact the first thing to hit me. The floor. “My” house had an amazing dark red floor that I photographed immediately. Here at the ground floor of each house there’s a small living area with tables and chairs and a corner where you can help yourself with coffee or tea. In this same room, you also have breakfast in the morning. But if you preder a complete, gourmet breakfast you can do as I did, go to Venissa and treat yourself: fresh fruit, eggs, croissant, focaccia with ham, homemade jam, juices.
The parquet of the room was natural oak by Itlas. They use the same wooden planks sourced from the forests that were used to construct the Venetian Republic’s historic naval fleet. Lamps are by FontanArte, a famous lighting that created some of the most iconic lamps in the history of design.
The room is equipped with air conditioning and heating, HD TV with satellite channels, towels and bathrobes, hairdryer, slippers and courtesy toiletries, minibar and safe. Of course there’s free WI-FI.
But to be honest, the thing that I loved the most was the view from the room. On one side, I could see some colorful houses right in front of mine. On the other side, more colorful houses and the quaint leaning bell tower of Burano.
But the best part was to have the opportunity to sleep in Burano. To go for a stroll in the evening when all vaporetti had already left the island and only locals were around. Or wake up early in the morning and go out for a photo hunting with lovely lighting and no one around.
I will remember this stay for a long time, and I’d like to come here again in the future, maybe with my husband, to live other experiences in the area, enjoy tasty seafood and… have someone taking pics of me in front of all those lovely, colorful houses. 😉
Watch the video of my experience: