On our recent trip to Venice we took a day trip out to a few of the neighboring islands. After seeing the famed glass blowers of Murano, we hopped on a crowded Vaporetto (water bus) headed for the colorful houses of Burano only to get confused and disembark one stop too early, on the little island of Mazzorbo. We quickly realized our mistake when the boat pulled away and we were the only ones on the dock. As it turns out, our original destination was just a short walk away over a pedestrian bridge, but as we wandered we became enchanted with the quiet island. With green gardens all around us and not a tourist in sight, it seemed like we had traveled worlds away from the packed alleyways of Venice. There were a handful of aging villa’s lining the waterfront and an ivy-covered café. Locals were pulling up in little boats to come to lunch. Nearby, we walked through an open gate and found ourselves in a stunning walled vineyard. There were flowers blooming everywhere, an ancient tower overlooking the grounds, and a beautiful open-air restaurant in the corner. It felt like we had walked right onto the set of a movie.
Through the vineyard and over the bridge, we were suddenly on a completely different movie set. The tiny community of Burano is famous for its traditional lace production and for the colorful houses lining its canals. The town has a system for painting and they decide which lot gets to paint with which shades. Unsurprisingly, the vibrant kaleidoscope of colors makes for wonderful photos and the popularity of Burano has skyrocketed in the age of Instagram. Still, most of the visitors stick to the main shopping street and canal so if you explore the back streets you can easily escape them. Alternatively, if you stay the night on Burano, you will find that in the early morning and late evening the crowds head back to Venice and it will just be you and the elderly locals enjoying the quiet streets.
The vineyard we walked through was actually part of the Venissa Wine Resort, a tiny 5-room boutique hotel with two on-site restaurants, and the perfect place to stay to experience a more relaxing side of Venice. For those traveling on a tighter budget, there are more affordable options just across the bridge on the island of Burano that can be found on Airbnb. The owners of Venissa also offer a variety of stylish apartment rentals under the name Casa Burano.
The front patio of Trattoria alla Maddalena on Mazzorbo is a wonderful place to enjoy a long meal on a summer’s day. Shaded by hanging ivy you can enjoy big plates of fresh pasta and seafood and watch the world float by on the canal. For a more luxurious experience, the Venissa is a Michelin starred restaurant with a beautiful setting in the walled vineyard. They have a 5, 7, or 9-course tasting menu to choose from and you can sample the delicious wine that is grown on site. For a quick budget bite, Devil Pizza in Burano makes a tasty slice of pepperoni.
Take a walk down the tree-lined path on the south side of Mazzorbo and you will come across a beautiful little cemetery to explore. Keep walking south then take a left at the canal and you can visit the Chiesa di Santa Caterina which has a lovely, peaceful cloister within.