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Journeys : Jun Jul 2011
Two men in their 20s chatter in thick Italian accents as they tinker with a metal dinghy, occasionally stopping to wipe greasy hands across the front of their matching navy overalls. A few metres away, I watch an elderly lady shuffle about hapha zardly in a matronly blue dress, watering pots of colourful flowers that adorn the w indowsills of her modest home. The woman casts a warm glance at a chubby tortoiseshell cat that lazes on the pavement in the morning sun, while a flock of tiny birds darts overhead. The air is still, apar t from the faint murmur of boat engines in the distance and the chuckles of young children who ride pint- sized pushbikes alongside the maze of narrow canals. It is a typical morning in the sleepy Venetian settlement of Burano, where life is slow-paced but never dull. After all, how can things be dull when it is compulsory for the island’s 4000 residents to paint their homes in bold colours? In Burano, a 40-minute boat ride from Venice, the br ighter your home’s exter ior, the better. This fishing community is widely recognised for its rows of small, cheerfully- painted houses, in a rainbow of pastel hues including lilac, fuchsia, marigold, olive green and aquamarine. The houses front onto winding canals dotted with motorboats and gondolas. Colourful shutters and flowerpots ador n the w indows of many homes, while str iped curtains hang from the doorways and neat rows of washing flap on string clotheslines. The colours of the houses not only follow a specific system originating from the golden age of Burano’s development, but are also said to help fisher men identify their homes when they return to the island on foggy winter days. The island has attracted artists over the years and I’m one of the many visitors who come to admire and photograph the vibrant buildings and buy intricate lacewear handmade by local women. Despite this, Burano is still often overlooked by tourists who make a beeline for the nearby island of Murano, famous for exquisite hand-blown glass. But I’m glad I included Burano on my itinerar y – wandering the streets of the village settlement is like stepping back in time to a simpler, more enchanting world. Men spend hours messing about in boats of all shapes and sizes, many of which are painted in bright hues just like the colourful homes behind them. Others unload bucketloads of fresh fish from boats that have just returned from the ocean – fishing and boat building are the main sources of income for residents. A little bit of local colour LindaSmith Destinations Linda Smith wanders through Burano 14 June / July 2011
Apr May 2011
MNJ Aug Sep 2011