If you had the chance to read our first Burano post, you already know how much Porter and I love this place and pretty much every little thing about it. What we haven’t talked about yet, though, is where we stayed while on the island, so (suprise, suprise) this post is going to be about that.
I have to admit, although I mentioned this little fact in our last post, I truly had no idea Venissa (& its of-shoot properties, Casa Burano) were the only hotels on the island of Burano until we got there. It makes sense, of course, after visiting and seeing how small the village is, but in my head I just didn’t equate a place so incredibly popular with tourists with, well, a lack of real overnight tourism. But that’s the quirky reality of this misfit tourist hub that’s simultaneously a secluded haven for overnight guests.
Venissa, the “head hotel” on the island of Mazzorbo, which is attached to Burano, is, at its core, a small vineyard and feels a little bit like a stunning restaurant that has a small handful of rooms for those serious about going out of their way to enjoy a good meal (which I think was the impression it originally intended). As its popularity grew, though, an idea was sprung to turn a few townhouses in Burano into kind of self-sufficient miniature hotels, an idea that I love and find so practical and interesting and strangely untapped considering the Air BnB / Homeaway culture we now live in. At Casa Burano, where Porter and I had the opportunity to stay, guests are led from Venissa into the village to one of five brightly painted three-story, three-room houses. The ground floor opens to these adorable mini cafes with three sets of tables for two, couches, access to coffee and tea and biscotti, and all sorts of colorful mugs.
Each house has two standard rooms and a suite, and all of them feel a bit like a “mini” house (sort of like you would find on HGTV). Our room had a loft and felt a whole lot more like an apartment than a hotel room (which was a feeling we really welcomed considering that oftentimes our hotel rooms double as our workspace). At Casa Burano, they’ve worked to not just create a hotel in Burano, but to integrate one into its already-suitable fabric. Nothing on the exterior of the Casa Burano houses screams “this isn’t a part of town”, and because the townhouses are tucked in between those occupied by real residents, the connectedness of those staying just for a few nights and those living there doesn’t feel like a farce (which I always kind of think it does when hotels occupy five or six townhouses in a row then attempt to act like you had a real “living there” experience).
The Casa Burano houses almost seem to have been chosen at random, and pop up in unexpected and quiet corners of the little village. I like to think locals returning home after some time away might not have even noticed their arrival. That kind of subtlety reflects the respects the whole Venissa group had, not just for its own island and the culture it supports, but for communities in general, big and small. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
Here are 5 things we loved about our stay at Casa Burano, and 4 things we love about their ethical and eco focus:
1. The Picnic Breakfast – Every morning the chef prepares either a “salty” or “sweet” breakfast (depending on what you choose) for each guest and puts it into a picnic basket on a little shelf in the common area of your casa, (there’s fresh juice and utensils and yogurt in there, too) and guests are encouraged to take their basket and sit with their feet hanging over the canal, or in one of the small local parks or on the docks or bridges. It’s delicious and light, and there’s even a to-go box with non-perishable items (like croissants and chocolate chip muffins) if you want to throw that in your purse or backpack for the ferry ride into Venice.
2. the Scandinavian influences – The rooms at Casa Burano are like nothing you would expect when you think quaint, stuck-in-time Italian village. Everything feels very modern and Scandinavian, with the kinds of bare-bone bedframes and light wooden floorings and modern fixtures you would expect in Copenhagen or Oslo. It’s refreshing and makes the room have a light airy quality that’s just unexpected.
3. The Restaurant at Venissa – The setting itself is worth a meal even if the food were terrible, but it isn’t. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, or an afternoon tasting of wine and cheese are all well worth it. The tables, even the ones inside, look out at the vineyard and the whole place feels so spacious compared to every other restaurant we experienced in Venice. When you’re there you forget you’re in Venice at all, really, and it feels a little bit like Tuscany.
4. Level of Design Detail – I’m going to go into this more in the ethical section, but the level of design detail was consistently thoughtful and surprising. My favorite was the bathtub that had a kind of rope suspension chord outer frame, and the knobs on the sink which had the sun or a snowflake instead of the run-of-the-mill “H” or “C.”
5. The Colored Notebooks – I’ll always remember this little detail because I just found it so awesome and amusing. You know how hotels typically leave out a pad of paper and pen or a little notebook with their insignia? Casa Burano does this too, but when you pick their book up and flip through the pages it goes from the standard white into every different bright color you can imagine, to reflect the houses that line it’s street. I thought this was such a cool way to pay homage to its location, and I might have yelled at Porter when he ripped out a page to write something down. (I’m still saving it, it’s just not as pretty).
E T H I C A L L Y M I N D E D
1. The Design – All through the room are really gorgeous modern paintings and interesting lamps that usually have some sort of gondola worked in or other reference to Venice. We found out that’s because every single item used to design Casa Burano was created by different up-and-coming designers from the Veneto region.
2. The Glassware – From the cups that hold your tooth brush to the wine glasses they supply in every room, every bit of glassware is blown just a ferry ride away in Venice (an art form the island is super famous for).
3. The Construction – We spoke with one of the minds behind the Casa Burano project during our stay and he explained how every bit of building material was sourced from as locally as humanly possible, reducing the environmental impact of the hotel’s construction as well as supporting the areas local community.
4. Their Ethos of Respect – Venissa and Casa Burano don’t attempt to separate themselves or (worse, in my opinion) project an indifferent over the community they occupy. They celebrate everything about this small island in the Venetian Lagoon, and their website and pamphlets in each hotel room have pages and bios of locals employed doing traditional jobs that are culturally important to the area (a fishermen, for example, or a gondelieri). I loved that, arriving to our room, one of the first things they wanted guests to learn about and celebrate was the livelihoods of the average Burano resident. That level of cultural appreciation just doesn’t come up all that often. I thought it was so cool that a hotel could be at once ultra-modern and ultra-ingrained in its history.
Anna Lisa & Porter
*Thank you to Venissa for sponsoring this post. As always, all thoughts & opinions remain our own.