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Monday, Mar 20, 2006

Metro Plus Delhi

Drenched in colour

SHEILA KUMAR drinks in the sights on the gorgeous Italian island of Burano

The profusion of colour in Burano seems to follow no set colour codes; it just celebrates something intangible

POSTCARD PERFECT A scenic vista at Burano

Sometimes, Venice tends to overwhelm with its sheer uniqueness,
its grandiose, decaying beauty. You visit Venice and feel it's a sort
of high point in your travels. Now, you can really wear the T-shirt
that announces: Done it all.

When it happens like that, you miss seeing Burano, the stunning
 little island just off the Venetian lagoon, a 40-minute vaporetto
ride from Venice. Now, Burano is a not-to-be-missed place, I assure you.

The birthplace of musician composer Baldassarre Galluppi,
 whose monument stands at the centre of the small town piazza,
 home to much of the lace making industry in these parts, and
yes, chock-a-block with tourists during season, Burano's surface
is dotted with the most colourful buildings you ever saw.

It's a rich gamut, almost a surfeit, of colour: the primary
hues with all the supporting and secondary tones imaginable.
Olive green next to blush of rose, next to deep scarlet and
 lime, next to teal, next to what we'd callmithai pink... with
lavender, deep purple, emerald and gold all thrown in
for good measure. It's enough to make the skylarks sing out
 in any Indian's breast!

Joy-filled ambience
The Mediterranean doesn't exactly lack colour but that's more
 of washes of soft pinks, shy yellows, toning mustards, cathedral
 greys, all of it offset by dazzling white. The profusion of colour
 in Burano, in comparison, seems to follow no set colour codes;
it just celebrates something intangible in a burst of joy and
radiance. A huge draw is the facade of a house in the interior
 called Bepi Sua, with geometrical patterns painted in bright oil
 colours, the apogee of Burano colour, indeed! Since almost
 everything in Italy hangs on an interesting tale, let me tell
 you, the colourful facades are credited to the vivid imagination
 of local fishermen. After many a night out, much hard
 fishing and maybe some carousing, many a fisherman
could not locate his house, no doubt leading to many a
 comedy or drama, as the case may be, of errors.

Eventually, some bright spark (if you'll excuse the irresistible pun)
 hit upon the idea of the houses painted in different but loud
colours, so that they could be spotted as the boats drew
 into the bay. Ergo, fisherman happy, wife happy, and
of course, the colourful houses of Burano is tourist history now.

Burano's other claim to fame (some would have it, the main
claim to fame) being lace-making, let me not neglect to
tell you the lace-maker's tale, either.

Many moons before, a young crusader from Burano had left
his beloved a beautiful seaweed as a token of his love.
 As time went by, the seaweed began to wilt and the faithful
 girl sought to preserve it by reproducing it through
needlework on one of her father's fishing nets.
Voila! Burano's famous lace industry thus got its humble
 kick-off. However, if you expect to see an Isabel Huppert
 look-alike poring over intricate needlepoint, you'll be in for
 a disappointment. It's Italian women of a certain age 
poring over their patterns that you will see.

There are about 7,000 people living on the island now
and almost any time, seem swamped by the number of
 floating tourists, which, of course, makes for one rather
crowded isle. Burano looks as if copied from some picture
 postcard... of Burano.

Isle of light
The light here has a special infusion and many artists have
dubbed it `the isle of light'. Houses have riots of blooms in
 planters and terracotta pots on window sills, falling from
trellis vines on terraces. The church of St. Martin, dating
back to the 16th Century, holds an important
work of art inside, Tiepolo's Crocifissione.

A delightfully lopsided little tower rises up at one end
 of the island, a little canal winds its placid way in the
 centre of the piazza.The outdoor cafes serve up long
lazy lunches and dinners of sea food (the shrimp
risotto is truly delectable) and fresh farm produce,
glasses frequently topped with sparkling wines,
with a finale of locally baked biscuits dunked in,
 yes, you guessed it, wine.

Nobody is in a hurry in Burano, and all too soon, the
tourists start slowing down, too, stopping to admire
some glazed ceramic ware here, the mounds of ornately
 worked lace there. Also on display are works of vivid
(but naturally) art by locals and wannabe Renaissance
artists-tourists alike.

There's a consistent whirring in the air and
 I look up  and around for a glimpse of small humming
 birds or maybe Woody Woodpecker. But no, it's 
the clicking of a thousand cameras!

Well, every Paradise has to have its downside, I guess.

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