Burano is an island in the Venetian Lagoon, although like Venice itself it could more correctly be called an archipelago of islands linked by bridges. It lies near Torcello at the northern end of the Lagoon, and is known for its lacework. The island was probably settled by the Romans, and in the sixth century was occupied by people from Altino, who named it for one of the gates of their former city. Two stories are attributed to how the city obtained its name. One is that it was initially founded by the Buriana family, and another is that the first settlers of Burano came from the small island of Buranello, five miles to the south.
Although the island soon became a thriving settlement, it was administered from Torcello and had none of the privileges of that island or of Murano. It rose in importance only in the sixteenth century, when women on the island began making lace with needles. The lace was soon exported across Europe, but decline began in the eighteenth century and the industry did not revive until 1872, when a school of lacemaking was opened. Lacemaking on the island boomed again, but few now make lace in the traditional manner as it is extremely time-consuming and therefore expensive.
Burano is also known for its small, brightly-painted houses, popular with artists. The designer Philippe Starck owns three houses. Other attractions include the Church of San Martino with a campanile, the Oratorio Santa Barbara and the Museum and School of Lacemaking. The colours of the houses follow a specific system originating from the golden age of its development; if someone wishes to paint their home, one must send a request to the government, who will respond by making notice of the certain colours permitted for that lot. This practice has resulted in the myriad of warm, pastelly colours that characterises the island today.
Burano is situated 7 kilometers from Venice, a short 40 minute trip by Venetian boats, "vaporetti." The island is linked to Mazzorbo by a bridge. The current population of Burano is about 4,000.