This past week Porter and I have been on the little island of Burano, about a twenty minute ferry ride from Venezia, but in mood and color and pace of life, a world away. Most people have probably heard of Burano by now. Photos of its streets are on basically every Instagram travel page at least every month or so. The houses here are all painted different bright colors, no two of the same allowed to be beside each other.
It’s gorgeous, as all the photos you’ve probably seen online have led you to believe. But what we were expecting was that surface level, have-to-snap-a-bunch-of-photos-then-can-be-on-our-way kind of beauty. I figured, because it’s such a popular spot for people (study abroad students, especially) to hop over to from Venice that it would be kind of run down, or just have that suspended feeling in the air of a place once meant for locals now capitalizing on tourists. I was completely wrong. But unfortunately, I think the bulk of people who pass through this little island village walk away with that first impression.
Burano feels built for tourism, built for photos and video, a quick snap, a day trip. But from around four pm to nine in the morning, the ferries in stop running and this little village comes alive in the absence of all those shuffling feet and you realize there’s a community here, one that just a decade or so ago was 8,000 strong, and has diminished over the years to about a quarter of that, but a community all the same. There are families with young children and grandmothers shaking rugs out at their doorsteps, there are neighborhood dogs that wander to and from home at their leisure; and little boys running from their pink and sage and sun-bright houses to play soccer in a piazza they no doubt were waiting all day to empty. After hours and early in the morning, Burano feels like a man that’s in the comfort of his own home that has just taken off his shoes after a long day of work and feels utterly himself after a day of charade-ing as a character that doesn’t quite suit him. Does that make sense? To me it does.
I guess after that kind of portrayal it goes without say that I’ve loved our time here. I’ve loved that there’s only one hotel on the island and that it’s still small enough that peeking out your window in the morning feels like glimpsing what Italy used to be like, but few get to see. I love the reality that so many people have seen this place but so few have really experienced it. I even love that there are so few restaurants and that the bulk of the ones open during the day close right at four when the tourists leave because people would rather be at home eating with their families.
I especially love knowing that a big goal of mine this trip was to find a place Porter and I would always want to go back to, a place that every two years or so was a recurring trip, a lesser-known, “us” kind of place. I probably said to him a hundred times last week “this is the kind of place I wanted to find” and even though we have a lot of the world left to see, I still feel that way. I’m holding out for you, Burano.
We’re going to be sharing photos of the hotel on the island we had the chance to stay with, Casa Burano, as well as our first ethical brand post we photographed while there in the next couple of days. Stay tuned..