Italy: Murano and Burano, Glass and Colour

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Ever fancied a wee wander round an Italian island which is said to be one of the most colourful places in the world, or seeing where Marano glass is made? They are a hop, skip and a jump apart (a waterbus ride) and here they are in pictures.

Last week I was working in Austria. To get back home to France those pesky Alps are in the way, meaning an up and over through Germany or a down and round through Italy. There are lots of cheap sleeper trains – like €49 cheap or less – which arrive at or leave from Venice. On Sunday I had one of those unfortunate travel days when I was stuck 😉 in Venice from 8am to 7pm, off one sleeper and onto the next.

When the train pulled into Santa Lucia station, I raced round to the luggage storage centre and by 8.02am I was ready to explore, with twelve Venetian hours ahead of me. Venice is the kind of place I’m good at – you ought to get lost. Tuck the map back into your pocket and just set off.

This trip I decided to head over to the neighbouring islands of Murano and Burano. Murano is glass and class, Burano is rainbow houses and lace. Both are a short vaporetto trip over the Venetian lagoon. Both are worth visiting.


I went to the furthest away island first, half an hour or so by boat from Fondamenta Nove pier in Venice. It was such a cheery way to start a Sunday morning. All of the houses are rainbow coloured, and it can’t fail to brighten your day wandering through the little lanes and crossing the canal footbridges. 3000 people live on this island version of “Balamory”, and it’s said to be one of the most colourful places in the world.

Joe Sweaty house Burano Casa di Bepi Suá

The most colourful house in Burano.

Burano is also famous for its lace. There’s a museum tracing the history of lace on the island, but I was happy just wandering. Try to find the most colourful house on the island called La Casa di Bepi Suá (sounds so romantic in Italian but it translates as The House of Joseph Sweaty). And stop by Burano’s own leaning tower.

Leaning tower Burano

The leaning tower peeping out from behind the houses.

Burano is best described in pictures……….

Burano colourful houses

You need to get used to having your underwear photographed – a lot.

Burano houses Italy

….and your tablecloths need to match your external walls.

Burano boats Italy

If you have a colourful house, you need a colourful boat.

Burano colour

There’s colour everywhere you look.

High tide Burano Italy

…but it won’t stop the high tide.

Filling station Burano

The filling station.

Burano cafés

There are plenty of places to stop for a coffee.


Murano glass bird sculpture

The Murano glass bird sculpture.

Bigger than Burano and closer to Venice, Murano is world-famous for its glass. In days gone by, all glass workers were required to live on the island to protect its production secrets.

Murano from a boat

Approaching Murano, with Venice in the distance.

From a distance, on the boat, some of the workshop buildings on the water’s edge in Murano look a little run down, but I actually liked here better than Burano. Most of the shops sell glass products, from tiny delicate earrings to huge chandeliers. I got chatting with a girl from Venice who works in a glass exporting business in Murano – she was busy learning her fifth language, Russian, because so many visitors are now from Russia.

Glass blowing Murano

Glass blowing workshop on Murano.

Molten glass sculpting Murano

Watching this guy manipulate a blob of molten glass was amazing.

There are a number of glass workshops which offer free demonstrations of glass blowing or glass working. It’s well impressive to see a blob of 500 degrees glass being pulled and manipulated to make a delicate horse figurine in a matter of minutes. It looks like pulling chewing gum with tongs, until the glass worker drops a piece of paper onto his newly finished creation and it combusts instantly.

Blue glass sculpture Murano

Glass sculpture on Murano

Murano glass workshop

They’ve been making glass creations in this workshop for more than 150 years.

Canals Murano

Canals, Murano.



How to get there

A day Venice pass for 20€ gives unlimited transport for 24 hours (and other benefits) – see – around Venice including the Vaporetto to Burano, Murano and other islands in the archipelago. Take Vaporetto number 12 from Fondamenta Nove on the east side of Venice.

There are connecting water buses (number 4.2 mainly) which can take you to Fondamenta Nove from outside the main Santa Lucia train station if you don’t want to walk.

Luggage Storage

At Santa Lucia station, looking towards the exit, the luggage storage is right round to the left (at the moment not very well signposted). One item costs 6€ for the first 4 or 5 hours, then 90 cents an hour dropping to 40 cents an hour. Much better than lugging your cases around for the day (wheeled ones are to be banned soon anyway).

Here are a few more colourful pictures to finish…..

Burano canal and houses

Burano colour

Burano canal footbridge

Footbridges over the waterways.

Burano houses

Very few houses like the one in the middle are unpainted.

Burano windowsill

A colourful window ledge.

Murano and Burano.

Goodbye Murano and Burano.

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