Lace shops in Burano: excerpt from ’50 Places in Rome, Florence, and Venice Every Woman Should Go’

I loved Susan Van Allen’s book “100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go“, so was happy to hear about her latest book, “50 Places in Rome, Florence, and Venice Every Woman Should Go”. Susan has graciously shared an excerpt from the book on lace shopping in Burano, below, for Italy Beyond the Obvious readers. Burano is one of the more well-known islands in Venice’s lagoon, and is a wonderful day trip from Venice – often combined with the glass-blowers’ island of Murano and the island of Torcello. I particularly love Susan’s Golden Days, advice on putting together the pieces (which can seem overwhelming!) in just one spectacular day. Read to the end of the excerpt for details of a Golden Day on the island of Burano.

Burano lace shops

Author Susan Van Allen with a lace maker on the Venetian island of Burano


Excerpted from “50 Places in Rome, Florence, and Venice Every Woman Should Go”

Lace Shopping in Burano

The island of Burano has been world famous for lace making since the 1500s. The Venetian legend goes that it started when a man who was heading off to sea gave his beloved an intricate piece of seaweed. Pining for him, she took out her needle and copied the design. The more practical story is that these island women were experts at mending their husband’s fishing nets, so when lace making came along they took to it naturally.

Now Burano, a half hour vaporetto ride from Venice, is a delight to discover–vibrantly painted buildings greet you upon arrival and lace shops cover the island’s center. Be aware that much of the lace for sale is no longer island-crafted, in fact much is made in China, so if you want the real thing, check out my recommendations below. Stop by the Museo del Merletto (Lace Museum), to start your shopping expedition. There’s a great video about the history of lacemaking, and elegant displays. Best of all, there are senior citizen signoras working there who have been making lace all their lives. The star of them is Emma Vidal, a 97-year old spunky type, who makes lace without wearing glasses. “The young people don’t do this anymore,” she grumbled, when I sat next to her, marveling over her quick stitching technique. “All they want to do is dance in the discoteca!”
Museo del Merletto, Piazza Baldassare Galuppi 187, Open April-October: 10:00am-6:00pm, November-March: 10:00am-5:00pm, Closed Monday,

The lace making signoras take a lunch break, so stop by between 10am and noon or 2pm to 3:30pm to see them.

Lace shops in Burano Venice

Other Lace Shops in Burano to enjoy

Merletti d’Arte Martina, Via San Mauro 307,
Come here for lace blouses, in beautiful colors and stylish designs, and a wonderful selection of table and bed linens. There is also an attached museum of antique lace. It’s close to the vaporetto landing, and their back garden is a pleasant place to enjoy a caffe and those special Buranesi cookies.

Emilia Burano, Piazza Galuppi 205,
Gorgeous bed and bath linens in this ultra-elegant shop.

Golden Day: Vaporetto to Burano from the Venice Fondamente Nove stop (Vap#12), and enjoy wandering amidst the colorful homes along the canals, lace shops, making a stop at Museo del Merletto to watch the lacemaking signore in action. Have lunch at Trattoria al Gatto Nero, for charming service and great seafood, prepared with risotto, grilled, or fried. (Fondamenta Giudecca 88, 041 730 120, closed Monday,

50 Places in Rome, Florence and Venice Every Woman Should Go

More information about author Susan Van Allen can be found at her website, including a link to purchase the book. Thank you Susan!

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Posted by on Mar 2, 2015 in Venice & the Veneto | 2 Comments


  1. Melodie K.
    March 9, 2015

    Good information . . . thank you!
    The practical story shared here of how the women of Burano came to be master lacemakers seems more inspiring than any of the romantic legends I’ve heard about their remarkable product. To go from making fishing nets to museum-quality lace, while maintaining a high degree of workmanship over the years . . . that’s impressive.

  2. Branson
    July 1, 2015

    This reminds me of my Italian grandmother 🙂 The detail in the lace is amazing!


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