A while back, we took our first Mediterranean cruise though to be specific, most of the cruise ports were in the Adriatic, namely Italy, Croatia, Montenegro and Greece. We enjoyed every stop, but the most colorful was definitely Burano Island in Venice, Italy.
Our ship docked in Venice overnight, offering plenty of time to see more than just the famous tourist sites around St. Mark’s Square. We’d seen those before, anyway, since this wasn’t our first time in Venice. So we hopped on a water taxi, called a vaporetto, to see some of the other islands in the Venetian Lagoon.
Torcello, Murano and Burano islands
The islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello are destinations in their own right. Murano is where all the Venetian glass is made, Burano island is the home of Venetian lace, and Torcello is the now-mostly-uninhabited island where Venice began. Torcello wasn’t on our radar for this trip, but we did see Murano the following day.
Visiting Burano island
Thanks to Google images, our #1 focus was the island of Burano. It was tops on our list because Dan wanted to photograph its brightly colored buildings. With stops, the boat trip took 40 minutes. It didn’t seem very long because the view was so interesting!
Lace making on Burano island
Burano has been occupied from the 6th century, but it only became important in the 16th century, when women on the island began making lace with needles and it became popular among the European elite. It’s a fine art form and takes an incredible amount of patience and time to create. So as you can imagine, it’s a luxury few can afford. Most of the lace that's for sale in souvenir shops is affordable, so it's not created by hand. Still, it's beautiful and the shops are worth visiting.
Tip: If you're in the market for lace, check the label carefully, because a lot of it is made in China. Be prepared to pay a lot for real Venetian (Burano) lace.
Only a handful of women do it in the traditional way these days, and I was lucky enough to meet one of them while we were there. She was sitting on a folding chair in the warm sunshine, talking to a friend while creating a pair of Christmas bells in lace on her lap.
Using the few Italian words I knew, I asked her how much time her piece would take to complete, and she told me it would take three months.
Three months, for just one small piece? No wonder Venetian lace is so expensive!
Burano island at twilight
As it got later and twilight approached the buildings’ colors began to change. We found a tempting restaurant and I settled in with a carafe of the house red wine while Dan went off to capture Burano at twilight.
Twilight is that time of morning and evening when there's neither full daylight nor complete darkness. Photographers call it the “blue hour” because of the quality of light. The blue-tinged light muted the hues of the usually colorful buildings. As a result of the fading light, Dan had to use a longer exposure which it made the rippling water look like glass.
Dan returned with a camera full of beautiful images, enough to create a video for our YouTube channel. Watch it here: