Burano was founded by the Romans who fled the city of Altino during the Barbarian invasions, and named it after one of the gates of the former city. The first houses of Burano were build on palafittes, with walls made of woven canes and afterwards plastered with mud. Later these raw houses were replaced by houses made of bricks and the inhabitants began painting them with bright colors. The origin of the colors is unknown but the story goes that years ago, when the fishermen returned from the sea, they couldn't recognize their homes through the fog, so they started painting them with different colors.
The colors of these houses, it is said, have been with the families for centuries. Over a period, a specific coloring system developed - if someone wishes to paint their home, one must send a request to the government, who will respond by making notice of the certain colors permitted for that lot.
Although the island was settled in the 6th century, it's importance rose only in the 16th century, when women on the island began making lace with needles. When Leonardo da Vinci visited in 1481, he visited the small town of Lefkara and purchased a cloth for the main altar of the Duomo di Milano. The lace was soon exported across Europe, but trade began to decline in the 18th 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.