I board the Vaporetto from San Zaccaria near St. Mark’s square. The large, express ferry slices its way through the placid waters of Canal Grande, spread like a gigantic, semi-transparent aluminum sheet in the morning sun. Majestic mansions and medieval cathedrals, with their ornate facades, flank the shoreline.
I am in Venice, and after three days of wandering through its warren of alleyways, feeding the pigeons in the expansive Piazza San Marco, exploring some of the smaller canals that veer their way into the quaint, less-touristy neighborhoods and hopping over endless cafes for the perfect cup of joe or a fine glass of Italian Chardonnay, I decided to break free of the enduring allure of Venezia in favor of the seductive charm of Burano – Italy’s rainbow island.
Italy is dotted with its fair share of incredibly beautiful islands, but Burano is the most prismatic of them all with the kaleidoscopic facades of dainty, medieval houses lining the shores of this small island. Legend has it that the vibrant colors made it easier for the fishermen to find their way home amid the dense fog that enveloped the lagoon when they were returning with their day’s catch. The rainbow palette was synchronized in a way so they could distinguish their own house from that of their neighbors. In fact, laws are still in place whereby the residents of Burano need to adhere to a prefixed color scheme when they repaint their houses, so that no house sticks out as an eyesore in a color-coded neighborhood. A thriving tourism scene can well be the underlying reason for this, but it has definitely helped retain the island its fairy tale charm with its intense palette.