Italy's postcard-pretty Burano is an Instagrammer's paradise
Avoid Venice's crowds by indulging in the charm of tiny Burano, which is home to history, craft and a Michelin-starred restaurant
More than 30 million tourists visit Venice each year to see the famous city of water. While the canal selfie and the video-spin around Piazza San Marco has become a little played out, there's a nearby spot that's become popular with Instagrammers looking for that perfect picture: the island of Burano.
Not to be confused with Murano – another nearby island famous for its Venetian glass – Burano is a multicoloured masterpiece, almost a postcard come to vivid life.
Most of the buildings in the friendly fishing village of Burano are painted in rich pastel colours, with every tint on the palette represented. Although the structures themselves are old, the locals take great pride in painting and repainting, layering fresh coats each year to ensure vibrancy. Many of the community buildings of Burano are likewise painted in vibrant hues, while some are left natural. The St. Martin Bishop Church, for example, isn't painted, but blends in beautifully with its original brickwork.
As the Burano folklore goes, many years ago, as the fishermen came back to town, the fog made it difficult for them to distinguish their homes. The residents began painting their domiciles in unique colours to make them easier to recognize. A colour-coding system was subsequently established and the pigments have stuck with families for generations.
Current residents on the island are required to send a request to the local government informing them when they plan to repaint their home or business. In return, the authorities will inform the resident which colours are permitted in different areas. The regulated system serves a purpose since the brightly coloured buildings are a main reason why the village of 2,800 welcomes hordes of tourists each year – many of them millennials in pursuit of that sensational photo-op.
To get to Burano from Venice, there is just one vaporetto (water taxi) that takes you there: the No. 12, which departs from Fondament Nove every half an hour and costs about €10 (around $15) a person each way. Alternately, you can take a private water taxi or opt for an organized tour, which is usually a day trip from Venice that includes stops at Torcello and Murano.
While the rainbow of colours seem to be the main attraction, there are other activities to pursue on Burano. The craft of lacing is a popular pastime on the island, as evidenced by several lovely lace shops – their hand-made scarves make excellent souvenirs – along with a lace museum and lacing school. A stroll along Piazza Galuppi, the main strip of Burano, reveals a treasure trove of unique shops and fish restaurants.
Finding a good place to eat isn't difficult even on these remote islands. The nearby island of Mazzorbo – a 10-minute walk by footbridge – has a miniscule population of 500 people but still boasts a Michelin-starred restaurant. Venissa has earned and re-earned its Michelin star four times, as its chefs have impressed and then left with the accolades to pursue their own endeavours (the star follows the chef).
If you're looking for more casual dining in Burano, Trattoria al Gatto Nero serves up a number of local classics, including shellfish soup and grilled cuttlefish. For a quick bite, Devil Pizza is fantastic. Grab a slice (or two) and just sit outside and people watch as everyone tries to capture the moment with their camera or smartphone. Vacation memories may fade, but a great selfie can last a lifetime.