3 minute read

A short ferry ride from Venice’s famous St. Mark’s Square are the islands of Murano and Burano. Small but mighty, as the saying goes, these two islands offer a wealth of culture and excitement, each with its own special history and gifts. 


There’s no doubt Venice offers plenty to see and do, but a trip to Murano is well worth the break from the hustle and bustle of the famed Italian “City of Canals”. Murano is world famous for its beautiful glass and a visit ensures you can witness the centuries-old art as it is still crafted today.

The Art of Glass

Murano became the glass crafting center in the late 13th century. Once located in Venice, glassmaking was moved to the island of Murano out of an abundance of caution. Many of the buildings and structures, including bridges, around Venice were constructed of wood. The art of glassmaking involves the use of fire so glassmakers were kindly asked to relocate. They opted to go to Murano.

Glass making in Murano is an art that requires skill and creativity. It’s a fascinating process to observe and several foundries in the area allow visitors to view the process from special windows or observation areas. There are also formal tours available if you so choose.

Many of the tours include a visit to the Museo del Vetro, or Museum of Glass. For anyone who wonders if glassmaking is in fact an art you need only visit the museum. 

Churches? Of course!

The 12th century Basilica de Santa Maria e San Donato has a stunning glass and marble mosaic floor that is a must-see. There is also a beautiful dome mosaic depicting the Virgin Mary. The 15th century  Church di San Pietro Martire was lost to fire and rebuilt in 1511. The church contains beautiful artwork, including paintings by Giovanni Bellini of Italian Renaissance fame. This church also has a beautiful bell tower.

Across from the church is the Campo Santo Stefano, a gathering place of sorts. There are some outstanding glass pieces on display and you can view the clock tower from this vantage point.


The island of Burano is one of the most photographed sites in Venice. It’s easy to see why. The buildings stand side-by-side in a spectrum of bright colors like a brand new box of crayons. Legend has it the brightly colored houses served as a beacon for sailors and fishermen returning from the sea.

Lace: Tradition and Culture

While Murano is recognized for their gorgeous glass, Burano is known far and wide for the intricate and lovely lacework. On a sunny day you’ll see a few women along the waterfront or tucked away in doorways of the shops leisurely crafting handmade lace. The tradition of lace-making is a craft that was once passed down through generations. Today’s lace makers of Burano can thank their 16th century grandmothers for passing on this all-but-lost art.

Lacemaking was a great way to supplement a fisherman’s pay and many Burano families relied on the craft. The eventuality of mechanization and bobbin produced lace slowed down the business for the island but the intricate patterns of Burano’s handmade lace couldn’t be replicated. While the process is a long, involved one the creation is unmatched in quality and design. 

Today the lace you can purchase in Burano is likely machine made, however hand-made lace is available and made exclusively by one of the local craftswomen. These lacemakers are driven by a desire to preserve the craft and their cultural heritage. 

Lacemaking in Burano is so interwoven into the history of the island it’s very much worth your while to visit the Burano Lace Museum. Here you’ll find rare and precious examples of the history and artistry of lacemaking as well as legends surrounding the origin of the craft. 

Colorful Casual Burano

Stroll the streets around Burano and you’ll find an open, friendly and decidedly casual atmosphere. Fresh seafood and lagoon fish, risottos and pizzas are local dishes available in restaurants throughout the island. Afterward enjoy a gelato or local pastry, the famous Bussolá/Buranelli cookie,  as you view Burano’s own “leaning tower” the Church of San Martino Vescovo and visit the Chapel of Santa Barbara.

For an Instagram moment check out the Tre Ponti bridge. It’s placement provides a perfect vista of the crayon box buildings and a backdrop that’s pure Burano. If you’re able to be there as evening draws near there’s no better view than the sun setting over the lagoon from the old fish market.

*Visiting venice could be a great extension to tours in Italy, Slovenia and Croatia.

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