Murano And Burano – Islands Of Venice

Islands Of Venice ?

But Venice is an island!? you say. Actually, 117 individual islands linked by bridges, separated by canals. But over the lagoon, a short boat trip away, lies 2 other ‘islands’ which are worth your time and effort – I’m talking about Murano and Burano.

(The number 12 Vaporetto from either Fondamente Nove or San Zaccaria takes 40 minutes to Burano, 10 minutes to Murano – €13 return or as part of your €20 day ticket which lasts 24 hours)


If you put Popeye and a bag of Skittles in a magic blender you’d no doubt get a Burano Smoothie – a sweet little fishing village of rainbow proportions. You’d be forgiven for thinking that Pantone have shares in this island and that the locals have as much of an obsession with Dulux paint-swatch cards as I do, but apparently they were painted so colourfully to guide their fishermen home on dark foggy evenings as far back as the 16th Century. And, if anyone does get fed up of their homes’ colour, they actually have to apply to the government to get it changed!

Burano's homes were painted in bright colours to guide the fishermen home in the fog, today they are photographed by thousands of day trippers from venice every year

I wrongly presumed that locals of Burano would have a cheery disposition, afterall – their men never get lost at sea and how can the most colourful place on earth not raise smiles. It seems my psyche-radar was totally off, I’ve never seen a more miserable bunch of Italians! Maybe they’re fed up of their daylight visitors and their sense of hospitality has worn thin, or maybe it’s like that time you had a weekend away with your permanently happy friend who woke singing every morning and skipped everywhere, come Sunday evening you were dying inside – perhaps the rainbow is just a little too bright!? Whatever, their miserableness conversely made me smile – there’s nowt so funny as folk!

Once upon a time the Venetians ruled Cyprus (amongst many other places of course) and they watched on as Cypriot women, with their little legs and beige pinnies, crafted the most beautiful lace. The skill was brought back to Burano, taught the young girls, and with a little help from Leonardo Da Vinci who took some to mainland Italy (the Duomo in Milan to be precise) a trade route was established, putting Burano on the map. Unfortunately today the skill is dying out – no one can find the space in their diaries to learn this time-consuming craft (apparently Angry Birds is massive in Burano!I shouldn’t jest – it’s such a wasteful shame that this craft should die out but it got my back up a bit when a shop keeper tried to force me to buy some with an inflection in her sales-talk that it was my fault! Her English was poor and my Italian is shocking otherwise I’d have told her about the apprenticeships that my local council provide to train youngsters in the ancient art of frame-work-knitting, us Nottinghamians do something about our problems! (She was also wielding a fairly sharp needle and I didn’t want to offend her!)

A lace maker in Burano - a dying craft

So, that’s my feel for Burano – I loved it, but not just for the photographic opportunities, there is a lot of History here and the locals are, well, interesting.

Things To Do On Burano

  • Grab a coffee on someones terrace – the backdrops don’t get much prettier than this.
  • Watch some lace being made – their youngest lace maker is in her 70’s so it may not be around much longer. There’s an official museum.
  • Wander the streets – it’s mostly residential, and unlike Venice there are more houses with front doors than apartments with communal entrances so you get more of a feel for how the locals live.
  • Check out the leaning campanile (tower) of the San Martino church – how is it still upright?
  •  Al Gatto Nero restaurant is a favourite with chef Jamie Oliver and famed for it’s seafood. Make sure you book though!
Burano in the fog - you can see why they painted those houses all sorts of rainbow colours can't you!
Burano in the fog – you can see why they painted those houses all sorts of rainbow colours can’t you!

Murano – The Other Island

In 1291 a wave of paranoia struck the Venetians and thoughts of fires on their ‘no-where to run’ island evoked them to evacuate all the glass making businesses over to the island of Murano – a less populated spot with orchards and vegetable gardens. Ever since, they have been noted for this skill and tradition. Unlike Burano, with its uniform rows of plain (albeit colourful) fronted houses, Murano has a few palaces and a landscape more like Venice itself.

Murano’s glassmakers have always been treated with prestige, pioneering new techniques and showing the rest of the world how it’s done. Even the Venetians recognised their worth, despite being tradesmen they were allowed certain privileges usually only reserved for nobles – allowed to wear swords, immune from prosecution and their daughters were free to marry above themselves, amongst Venice’s wealthiest of families. However, dare to leave and take their glassmaking secrets with them and they’d be put to death.

The Cometa Di Vetro is an amazing sculpture on the island of Murano in Venice
The Cometa Di Vetro
catching the last rays of sun on the Venetian island of Murano
Catching the last rays of sun in Murano
The view over to Venice from Murano
The view over to Venice from Murano

Things To Do On Murano

  • Watch some glass blowing and check out the museum – glass is why you’re here afterall
  • Art lovers must visit the Berengo Studio to have their mind blown – click through and you’ll see what I mean!
  • Take a selfie in front of the spectacular Cometa Di Vetro – the big, spikey blue sculpture at the end of Fondamenta Manin
  • Just wander, a much more relaxed feel than Venice and some great fish restaurants

Murano and Burano are definitely worth a few hours of your time – they’re only a stones throw from Venice yet quite distant in culture and history and you’ll have a great time exploring!


Pin For Later…

Murano and Burano both make for a nice day trip from Venice - islands full of colour and rich in history. Click through for my guide on visiting these two beautiful islands in Venice

19 Comments Add yours

  1. Jurga says:

    You made me laugh with your description of the locals in Burano, Alex. 🙂 I would have expected the people there to be friendlier than in Venice… Now that I think of it, I never really met any unfriendly Italians, so now you really got me intrigued!
    And so much history, about the colour of the houses or the fact that they are not allowed to change it without permission. Never knew this! Sounds a bit like Belgium – everything is so strictly prescribed here too…

    1. Alex says:

      No way, I never knew that about Belgium!

  2. melbtravel says:

    I love these beautiful colourful places and I wish that when I was in Venice that I had time to visit here. It reminds me of something out of a cartoon like popeye, where everything is bright. Stunning pictures between you and I 🙂

  3. Erik Brenner says:

    I really want to have coffee and tour to museum when I go to Venice. Wait, is Venice is a part of Italy?

    1. Alex says:

      Have fun when you go! Yes it is

  4. Aw, pity the Burano folk aren’t as jolly as the permanently grinning residents of the colourful town of Balamory. Obviously, they’d tried to keep pace with them but their faces just gave up in the end. Lovely review of two places I’ve never visited.

    1. Alex says:

      That is exactly what I thought of too – Balamory. Maybe the scotts have more to be happy about, like whisky and ginger nether regions. And awesome wives obvs 😉

  5. It’s cool to see those colorful houses, but the story behind them is even cooler! When I visited Venice (as a child) all I remembered from the canals was green moldy steps. Looks like I need to head to these colorful places next time. Thanks for sharing! #FlyAwayFriday

  6. Lauren Brown says:

    I’ve always wanted to go to Venice!! #flyawayfriday

  7. Ruth says:

    So cool! I would love to go to Venice just to visit these two islands. I love the colors and the cheerful atmosphere. #FlyAwayFriday

  8. Lolo says:

    I definitely plan to visit both one day while in Venice, but I kick myself stupid every time I see a post like this reminding me that I didn’t know about these the first time I went! #CityTripping

    1. Alex says:

      I was the same until lately! You’ll get your chance 😉

  9. We loved Murano and watching the glass blowing..fascinating. Haven’t been to Burano yet but love the colorful buildings even if they don’t match the personalities of their owners! #citytripping

  10. Umberta says:

    NIce pics!! Burano is so beautiful!!!

  11. I am definitely visiting Burano on my next visit to Venice, whenever that is – if only to take photos. I shall keep am eye out for grumpy locals and prickly lace makers though! And I love the history about Murano, I hadn’t realised quite how prized they were. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

  12. Haha I love that expression ‘nowt as queer as folk’ – the Yorkshire side of the family say it a lot and it makes me giggle – it’s just so true. Such a shame the people of Burano aren’t as cheery as their colourful houses (great fact about why they are painted by the way). As for Burano, let’s hope glass blowing doesn’t go the same way as the lace making! #citytripping

  13. Kana says:

    Love the colors of the houses <3 Venice is still a dream spot to visit for me! 🙂 Thanks for joining #FlyAwayFriday!! xo

  14. Chloe says:

    awww I love these colorful places!! they look absolutely amazing!! I’m dying to go here and see this in person. Can’t wait to see what you share tomorrow on FlyAwayFriday!!

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