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Why writer MAX DAVIDSON is dreaming of the beautiful island of Burano during lockdown

Venice’s baby sister: Why writer MAX DAVIDSON is dreaming of the beautiful island of Burano during lockdown

  • Burano is 45 minutes by boat from the centre of Venice, and in high summer it’s a magnet for day-trippers 
  • The island used to be famous for its lace-making, and there is a fine museum commemorating the industry 
  • Wander the streets and canals and marvel at the brightly coloured houses, which are ‘a feast for the eyes’

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The morning fog gives the Venetian lagoon a spectral quality. The buildings on the shore are mere silhouettes, and even the caw of the seagulls is muted.

But there is nowhere I would rather be today, in the height of winter, chugging across the lagoon to my favourite island in the world.

Burano is 45 minutes or so by boat from the centre of Venice, and in high summer it’s a magnet for day-trippers, its brightly coloured houses famous the world over. But, as my boat docks at the landing station this morning, there is barely a tourist to be seen.

A vision: Burano is 45 minutes by boat from the centre of Venice, and in high summer it’s a magnet for day-trippers

I wander the streets and canals in peace, marvelling at the brilliant palette of colours: no two houses are the same, and each is a feast for the eyes. 

None of these peacock properties would get planning permission in London, but here they form a symphony in joy.

You can walk round the island in an hour and, on a clear day, you can see Venice in the distance. But Burano feels like a world apart; a bright jewel in a sea of tranquillity.

After a hot chocolate in the town square, opposite the old campanile (bell tower) — which is almost as crooked as the Leaning Tower of Pisa — it is time for a little retail therapy.

The island used to be famous for its lace-making, and there is a fine museum commemorating the industry. But my favourite port of call is a craft jeweller called Alla Fiera dell’Est, tucked away down a side street. ‘Ciao, Max,’ says the smiling owner. ‘Ciao, Alice.’ I can feel my credit card itching.

Clutching my purchases, I sashay past stalls selling Venetian masks and head to Al Gatto Nero, a fish restaurant which I’ve been visiting, pilgrim-like, for more than 20 years.

Burano's old campanile (bell tower) in view - which is almost as crooked as the Leaning Tower of Pisa

Burano’s old campanile (bell tower) is almost as crooked as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, writes the Daily Mail’s Max Davidson

Massimo, the maitre d’, is waiting for me with a glass of prosecco. Dear Massimo. He used to live in Glasgow and, when he speaks English, he could be the young Sean Connery. He is completely fish-mad and could talk the hind legs off an octopus.

Ordering is a doddle: pappardelle with shrimp and ricotta, followed by turbot caught that morning. On the wine list, as in all the best dreams, prices have been frozen at 1965 levels.

Please nobody wake me for the next four hours… 

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