How exciting is to find hidden gems close to your home that feel like being from another world! Although I’ve been to Venice several times, I’ve almost always followed the same touristic footsteps: Piazza San Marco, Doge’s Palace, Rialto Bridge… A bit of people watching, a lot of thronging with gazillions of tourists, waving to gondolas passing by, buying some souvenirs… and that’s it. That’s Venice! Or is it?
A few weeks ago I’ve been to Venice again, with a dear friend who is absolutely in love with that island. We wandered around without stress and pressure, staying off the tourist paths as much as possible, without plans and city maps. We kept getting lost in the small streets and squares, getting surprised by majestic facades and cupolas of churches and palaces, stumbling upon small, private and very intimate campos and back yards. It was Venice seen in a completely different light.
The biggest surprise of the trip was the visit to the island of Burano. Less-known than its neighbour Murano famous for glass production, I got the impression that it sometimes gets neglected by the tourists visiting the Laguna. And that just might be the best thing for the small island – because without the lines of tourists, you can experience the specific relaxed and casual atmosphere of the magical place. Burano is the closest thing to Wonderland that I have ever seen, with its small streets and bridges spanning the canals, and the fantastically colourful facades of houses. Pink, red, green, blue… Every single house on the island is of a different colour or tone. It’s no wonder that Burano is popular with the artists, because it is so adorable and inspiring and different that you feel like you got lost in a fairytale and you don’t ever want to leave.
Legend says that women started to paint houses in different, specific and very visible colours so that their husbands could find their way coming home from fishing in the misty, dark Laguna mornings (there is also the version saying that the husbands were slightly mischievous, getting lost in other women’s beds, and that that might be the reason for the strong colours). Whatever the reason, colourful houses became a trademark of Burano, and if someone wants to repaint their home, they have to send a special request to the Italian government who then responds by making notice of the certain colours permitted for that specific lot.
Apart from the colourful houses, Burano is also known for its lace production, and you can buy beautiful fragile lace products everywhere you look. There are also some beautiful shops selling local food products such as pasta, biscuits or specific drinks. Burano is very small, and you can see everything in an hour, but the size certainly doesn’t affect the enjoyment factor! You have enough time for wandering around, taking photos and sitting down in one of the cute island cafes where you can enjoy a glass of Bellini, the traditional (and quite delicious) drink made with Prosecco and peach purée. What a great way to finish off the beautifully authentic Venetian experience!