What To Do
I had one more day left to spend in Venice, and expecting more bad weather, I had resolved myself to staying in and relaxing. But when I woke up the sun was out and the snow was melting. Hmm, what now? The hostel “worker” asked me what I was up to. Yes, I say “worker” because the title is questionable. He rolled out of bed about a half-hour past when breakfast was to begin and would usually find his way back to bed. The doorbell would ring and half of the time, someone staying at the hostel would check on it. When hostel “worker” was somewhat alert, he was watching Tom & Jerry on YouTube or wasting away hours on Facebook. With that in mind, I still seemed to answer his question with, “I’m not sure, what do you suggest?” Hostel worker led me to a postcard hung above the kitchen stove and said, “You should go there.” Why I took his advice without any further research, I’m not sure, but I’m glad I did!
I caught the vaporetto (ie water bus) on Fondamenta Nuove to Burano. No that’s not a typographical error; it’s an island just past Murano in the Venetian Lagoon. Although Murano is a popular choice for a day trip, Burano is dramatically different. When I got off of the ferry I was, for the most part, walking along waterways by myself. It was quiet, the water was calm, and the scenery was surreal. Off-season exploration gave this magical place a feeling of being in another world.
Burano: The Background
Burano is an island with a population of about 4,000. Locals began making lace here in the 16th century, and it soon became a major export. Today you see a couple of lace shops, but buyer beware: some are cheap imports and not the real deal. After hopping off the ferry, there is a shop on the right just up the main path. An old woman was sitting front and center when you enter, making lace. It’s time consuming and therefore expensive, so be prepared to drop some change if you’d like a lace souvenir.
The more obvious trait that Burano is known for is all of the brightly painted buildings. It reminds me of Charleston’s painted homes but with much brighter colors. The island is very small so you can make your way around the whole thing in just a couple of hours. I began to notice that the colors didn’t repeat that often. For example, no two neighbors had a similar color. It turns out that if a homeowner would like to paint their house, they must contact the government, who will then let one know which colors are permitted for their house. The system is obviously effective, as every street appears so charming. I really didn’t come across any other tourists except in the main square. I passed some older women sweeping the street in front of their houses and a fisherman cleaning off his boat, but that was the extent of my interaction with the locals; like I said, it’s a very quiet place.
Burano’s laid-back lifestyle is further exhibited in the boat docking system I came across. It looks like you pick a post, tack up your name, and it’s your official boat dock. Some had their names tacked on several of them, while others just had one. I was, however, surprised to see several clotheslines with all black clothing hung to dry. With all of the color surrounding this island, maybe the locals just need a break?
The leaning tower of… Burano?
When I was making my way to the main square, I caught a glimpse of the church tower. I thought to myself, ‘Is it crooked?’ Certainly not as this isn’t Pisa. But after seeing it from several angles, snapping multiple photos, and then watching it as the ferry pulled away from the island, I realized that yes, it is crooked. Apparently several Italian architects had trouble getting it right because I’ve seen three leaning structures since I’ve been here.
To see more photos of this leaning tower, or more of Burano’s picturesque scenery, click here.