The lagoon of Venice is surrounded by many islands that have their hidden treasures. Located in the northern part of this enclosed bay Burano is well-known for its lace production since the 1500s.
Thanks to the patient work of many women, who repaired their husbands’ fishing nets, lace making was invented by using a needle and a thread. From this simple work they copied and created a particular stitch that gave birth to a delicate fabric made by hand. The
techniques employed are still the same of the past and are known today by a few women, who are very old.
When the design has been chosen it is copied onto transparent paper and then sewn together with pieces of cloth. With a needle and a thread the paper is pierced in order to follow the pattern.
This type of lace is created using at least four stitches, the main one being the guipure one, followed by the so-called barrette stitch used to tie the work together. The last stitches that complete the work are the net and the relief one. When the piece of lace is ready the paper is cut off, the lace is washed, starched and framed.
In the northern part of the Venetian lagoon there is an island famous for lace-making and different from the rest of the other lagoon islands. Its outline is marked by its colored houses and by the leaning tower of St. Martin’s church, the only one ever built there in its main square.
The campanile and some houses
Burano has always been a fishermen’s village, where women stayed at home to repair nets while their husbands went fishing.
Houses flanking a typical canal on the island
Local people have always lived in simple houses divided in two floors: on the first floor a big kitchen and on the second one a couple of bedrooms and a bathroom. Their facades have been painted with bright and striking colors that sometimes do not match since the 1500s as far as we know.
The reason why local people made the choice to paint them in different colours is very simple. When the fishermen left their homes for work during a foggy day, they could easily find their way back recognizing their bright-colored houses in the mist. There are other versions to this story but according to tradition this is the most credible one.
Find the door on the island
Many artists lived on the island and decorated their own buildings in a very creative way like you see in the above picture. Many of them painted beautiful landscapes of the surrounding lagoon.
There are two types of purple artichokes one can eat in the province of Venice. They are grown in Chioggia and on Sant’ Erasmo, an island in the north of the Venetian lagoon, still considered the orchard of Venice. In fact since the Middle Ages it has supplied Venice with vegetables as it does today. Green asparagus, cauliflowers, different kinds of salads, peppers, white and brown eggplants and of course purple artichokes are sold at Rialto, the main market in Venice.
From the mid of April baby artichokes, castraure in Venetian dialect, are available for a short time, just for fifteen days being the first ones of the harvest. They are cut in advance to let other artichokes grow from the same plant. Those second hand ones are called botoli and sottobotoli and at least eighteen to twenty pieces of those are produced by the same plant.
Risotto with shrimps and artichokes
Those vegetables are also famous for their tender taste with a light bitter aftertaste. They can be cooked in several ways such as deep-fried or added to mussels. One of the best recipes is shrimps with artichokes.
On the first half of May a festival dealing with artichokes takes place. At the Maximilian tower on the island the tasting of the artichokes is organized and local products are sold to the participants.