BURANO – Chiesa Di San Martino with Leaning 17th Century Bell Tower and Beautiful Coloured Fishermen’s houses.
I wanted to find my pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Burano! Arguably, the most cherished and colourful of all the islands in Italy, popular with artists.
The colours of the houses, which have become so iconic over the years, do indeed follow a specific system. If an occupant wants to paint their home, then they have to send a request to the Government, who responds with a Notice, telling them what colour they are permitted for that particular housing lot. Historically it is said that the houses were coloured so that the Fishermen, way out on the Lagoon, could recognise their own houses and find their way home when it was foggy.
Before deciding to risk giving up a boring day-job and throw every ounce of vitality I have into my photography, I had never travelled much. But now my brain (the dominant bad wolf side), which had always been used to allowing me to dream of what may be, and to wander where life may take me, was being pushed by the other side of my brain and my body to physically get out there, to pre-determined locations that inspired me to create the most beautiful wall art that I could physically invent.
I had saved hard, from a very low wage, for my photography equipment and now I was off on this scary; but truly imaginative journey.
Over the years I have heard well-travelled friends talking about the alluring qualities of Burano.
I wanted to go there so much.
I wanted to take/make a beautiful image on Burano.
But how and when?
I had to get to Venice, Northern Italy, and I knew that I would be up against throngs of tourists all vying for their own spots from which to take photographs. I knew that crowds would be an issue at every turn, as every inch of space would be at a premium there and that the ferries would be full.
Then! When my trip was organised for November 2019, Venice was in flood and people world-wide were cancelling their trips in their thousands. Undeterred, I embarked on my fantasy.
I was going to get to Burano through hell – or, in this case, HIGH WATER!
Late one afternoon, I found space on a Vaporetto (water bus), along with a handful of international tourists, many locals, a few small pooches and a hen (which was being clutched tightly under the arm of a Venetian woman, discreetly, almost hidden inside her large shopping bag).
It was a glorious sunny day, and I could feel the heat of the sunshine on my body. The wave pattern being produced by the boat was lovely and the water spray was acting like a prism, with glorious colours of the rainbow, a combination of millions of light beams coming back to me.
I was journeying across the Venetian Lagoon, an enclosed bay of the Adriatic Sea, a wetland at the mercy of tides, with the reclamation of land by man having created a truly awe-inspiring place. The Lagoon’s acquatic shades of blue-green waters with a slight yellow undertone made my stomach churn, in a very happy and enthusiastic way, knowing I was now only a short distance away from Burano, having already past Murano, famed for its glass.
Ahoy! There she was! At last! BURANO! I was so excited that I had moved to the door of the Vaporetto to get off first.
There were lots of people leaving the island and waiting to get onto the boat for the return trip to venice.
A hop, skip and a jump and I was there. I had made it. It felt so good to be alive, with, at long last my very own professional camera and tripod in my hands.
Oh! You Beauty! Just as I had imagined. I set off on my exploration of Burano.
I walked up the main street, through Galuppi Square and on to the canal. There were many shops, selling needle lace-made goods (the lonely fishing widows had to have something to do) and informal fish restaurants. I could smell the wonderful smell of freshly baked Bussolai Buranel (local butter cookies) permeating through the air, making me suddenly feel quite hungry.
I took a deep breath to plant myself firmly on the ground, realising that I was here, at last. This was reality and I was one happy man.
Burano is made up of four small islands, which are linked together by a series of bridges and held even more solidly by the eye-catching colour scheme.
To me, everything about Burano was intriguing – they even make masks here for the Carnevale di Venezia (Venice Carnival), an annual festival, ending on Shrove Tuesday (Martedi Grasso or Mardi Gras), which is the day before the start of Lent or Ash Wednesday. This festival is world-famous for the extremely elaborate masks.
Burano has native, hard-working, inhabitants living in its picturesque, colourfully painted Fishermen’s houses.
The location was truly atmospheric, just what dreams and films are made from, and I found myself wishing I could walk into one of these cheery, mad, brightly painted warmly inviting houses, shut the door, make some Risotto Buranello (Go Fish Risotto), drink something from a locally made glass, go to sleep in a heavily laced bed, then stay for an eternity.
After having walked the Island and getting a good feel for it and its landmarks, I knew I needed to create the most beautiful piece of work, something showcasing this romantic, gorgeous and unique island, one of the most colourful places on earth.
I had decided exactly what I was going to work with.
This was my moment in time and my chance to get my pot of gold, as Burano was probably at its quietest ever, due to the flooding.
I took my image, standing on the second wooden bridge, facing the leaning campanile of San Martino’s church.
It took me 30 minutes to get this image, as I waited for the right light and reflections on the water.
My shot was taken at night-time during the blue hour, depicting the ancient Chiesa Di San Martino, with its leaning 17th Century bell tower, brightly coloured Fishermen’s houses, twinkling street lights and small boats, used for fishing on the Lagoon. The water in the canal was so still and the reflections were amazing.
Even more enchanting - the church bells were ringing.
This photo took my breath away and I hope it makes you feel the same way.
Burano has a special place in my heart.
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