Venice possesses a bit of dreary charm. Even on the sunniest of days, it feels a little bit like an old, faded photograph you might pull out of a shoebox from the attic. Gray, stone walkways bordering each murky green canal, piazzas flanked by sepia-toned historical buildings, facades that have chipped away over time to look perfectly flawed. But this traditional Venetian experience—the one which takes place in the famed canal city—is juxtaposed beautifully by the pop of color that is Burano, a lagoon island about a 45 minute boat ride away.
Do you remember when Dorothy’s house lands after the twister in The Wizard of Oz? She gets swept up in grayscale Kansas, and when the house lands she cautiously opens the door to see every vivid, vibrant color imaginable—a cheery, golden pathway of bricks, lush greenery, and those twinkling ruby red slippers.
Well, Burano is Oz.
Stepping off the ferry, I could feel sweat already accumulating on the nape of my neck as the sun reached its highest point in the sky. A delicate breeze blew, and I heard the chatter of people heading towards the main street as the boat puttered away. My eyes darted around frantically attempting to decide which way to go. Left, I decided, wandering slightly away from where the majority of the crowd walked.
Turning the corner, I was greeted by an idyllic, postcard picture-perfect canal generously dotted with homes of every hue. Fuschia, lavender, navy, mustard, burnt orange…not one next to another of the same color. It’s like that mysterious skill some people have to mix all different patterns with their clothing and still look utterly stylish and put-together—Burano flaunted every pigment possible, but it avoided kitsch.
I hadn’t planned on spending that long on Burano island, but once I actually got there I wanted my feet to hit every square inch of that pavement. Who knew there were so many shades of blue and green and pink? I needed to see each one and try to commit the bright bursts of color to memory.
Sure, it all seems like one big Instagram trap at first glance, but as I explored it became very apparent: these houses were truly houses. Unlike Venice, where locals commute into the city from the suburbs, nearly 3,000 people call this tiny island home. A woman hung damp laundry out of her second storey window, a man watered the potted plants by his doorstep, and a family gathered around a foldable metal picnic table for lunch. I was merely passing through. Some noticed me, one person even offered up a friendly smile and wave—but most kept on living life in this magical rainbow land.