There are many places in the world where color is a key component that separates one region from the next. Roussillon in Provence, for example, is where ochre was mined, and the town's warm, reddish-orange color palate makes it special for the tourist. Parma, known for its ham and cheese, is also well known for it's warm colors: The Colors of Parma, Italy.
Burano is an island in the Venetian Lagoon known for its colorful houses, a major tourist draw these days. The little island rose in prominence among lagoon islands when its women decided to make fine lace. Until recently, lace was the tourist draw, but today much of the lace is machine produced; hand-made lace is too time consuming and expensive.
Burano is also known for the leaning campanile or bell tower of the church of San Martino.
A Burano Itinerary
The best way to visit Burano, for those who like to stroll, is to get off the ferry from Venice (vaporetto number 12) at the island of Mazzorbo, turn right at the vaporetto stop and walk along the canal, looping around the island until Burano comes into view. You'll get a good view of the angle of the lean of the campanile of San Martino as you approach the bridge linking Mazzorbo to Burano.
Once in Burano, you'll wander the streets along the canals, visiting the Lace Museum and perhaps eating the Burano's famous risotto at Trattoria da Romano. It's not like you can make a week out of visiting Burano. It's a very small island.
So, after Burano, you can take the short vaporetto hop to Torcello island. Once a thriving island of of 10,000 people in the 10th century, the lagoon around the island became a swamp in the 12th century, malaria set in, and folks abandoned the island. Today's population hovers around 20.
Torcello is an attractive island with restaurants and wildlife. The main draw here is the lagoon's oldest cathedral, the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta built around 639 with its Byzantine mosaics, and the 11th century octagonal Church of Santa Fosca. Another main draw is lunch at Locanda Cipriani (where Ernest Hemingway wrote 'Across the River and Through the Trees').
Following this itinerary should get you back to the Venice mainland in time for a visit to a Bàcaro or Cicchetti Bar or two for those wonderful small plates Venice is known for.
Enjoy our short tour of Burano's colorful houses (and boats!). The last page (5) includes some resources for planning your Venice vacation.