Burano is completely different to Venice in terms of its architecture. We visited it as part of a 20-Euro half-day tour of Murano, Burano and Torcello. It sits about 7km from Venice and you can catch a ferry directly there which takes about 40 minutes.

Burano’s multi-coloured houses

Burano is famed for its multi-coloured houses, tilting bell tower and lacemaking. Families sometimes match their plant pots, curtains and other features to the colour of their walls.

The houses and their shutters are simple – nothing like what you’ll see in Venice – but the colour is what makes it appealing.

Coloured houses in Burano
Coloured houses in Burano


There’s plenty of lacework available to purchase, and some shops have demonstrations of this traditional technique which dates back to before 1300 AD.

lacemaking by hand burano

There are also traditional local biscuits called bussolà which is a donut shape and essi which are s-shaped.

Basilica and tilting tower

Burano has a basilica with a precariously tilting tower which looks like it’s about to topple at around 1.85m lean at the top.

leaning bell tower Burano
Go home bell tower, you’re drunk

It’s just a couple of minutes’ walk from the dock. The basilica entrance is in the main square. It is free and open from 8-12 and 3-6. You’ll find a nice set of pipe organ pipes over the main entrance door but the interior of the basilica is nothing compared to some of those you’ll see in Venice.

pipe organ pipes
The pipe organ is a nice piece of work, with great symmetry. In some ways it’s more impressive than the altar and apse

Like Venice, Burano has canals with bridges to link its four islands, and no cars.

canals and coloured houses
Canals and coloured houses are picturesque

You can wander around, keeping the tower in view to maintain your bearings, although it’s only a few hundred metres in diameter. We found a plethora of small alleys leading to courtyards where washing lines strung between houses were propped up with sticks, and pomegranates ripened on trees in the sun. There are very few green areas with the majority of the island taken up with the brightly coloured houses.

We also found the fish market with its ancient tables impregnated with the smell of sea food. Two Asian youths were sitting on one of the tables, immersed in their phones, unaware of exactly how bad they would smell for the rest of the day.

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