With the very first steps on the island of Burano, I immediately felt a bust of positive energy: in front of my eyes was a small square with a couple of restaurants from where a confined but sunny street was starting. The narrow houses of a simple architecture, and not higher than one or two floors, were painted each of them in a different tint. Involuntarily, my brain started reacting to what my eyes were seeing, and a feeling of happiness overpowered me. Instantaneously I felt a hunger of seeing more and so I’ve started walking at a fast pace along the beautiful, narrow streets and channels.
Burano is a small island in the northern Venatian lagoon, situated at 40 minutes ride by vaporetto (water bus) from Venice. Buranelli (the natives of Burano) have always been fishermen, but the lagoon and the Adriatic are now polluted and decreasingly productive. The legend says that they started painting the houses in bright colors so the fishermen could see them in the fog. Additionally, Burano is the island of lace (Italian merletto or pizzo). Burano’s economy started to boom only in the 16th century, when women on the island began making lace with needles. Lacemaking is women’s work, an important social and economic barometer, and has a history—an excellent way to discover a great deal about women’s lives and about Burano.
The houses on Burano follow a special color pattern, based on a specific system that has been in place since the village’s founding. If you live on Burano, and wish to paint your house, you must send a request to the government, which responds by making a note of the certain colors permitted for that specific lot of houses.
Despite the fact that it is a very touristic place, easily reached from Venice, Burano let me with a strong peaceful and serene sensation. A place brought up to life from a fairytale, probably one of the most colorful place in the world.
. S. Siporin, J. Am. Folklore, 2005, 118, 122-123
. L. D. Sciama, A Venetian Island: Environment, History, and Change in Burano, New York: Berghahn Books, 2003.
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