While within no more than 12 miles from the heart of Venice, the islands of the Venetian Lagoon are a world apart in atmosphere: they feel lost in time, remote, intriguingly dream-like and mysterious. Except for Murano and Burano, they are sparsely populated. Torcello has two magnificent churches…but less than 15 permanent residents. Many of the names of the islands are largely unknown: Mazzorbo, Sant’Erasmo (Venice’s vegetable garden), Certosa, San Francesco del Deserto, Lazzaretto Nuovo….
The entire Lagoon has a unique ecosystem and each island has its distinct history and feel – only in geographic proximity similar – otherwise so diverse.
Torcello was one of the most ancient settlements in the area, founded between the fifth and sixth centuries. It was part of the Byzantine Empire and at one time counted 20,000 inhabitants. The extraordinary Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta was founded in 639 but rebuilt and decorated in the year 1000. Santa Fosca, a remarkable octagonal church, is a beautiful example of Venetian Romanesque architecture.
the extraordinarily peaceful walk from the vaporetto stop to the two magnificent Torcello churches
one of the four exquisite 1100 stonework panels under the iconostasis in Santa Maria Assunta
general view of the interior of Santa Maria Assunta with its important iconostasis
Santa Fosca – Torcello
medieval stonework fragments in Santa Maria e Donato in Murano
After viewing the Lagoon with its magnificent art, it was on to more worldly pleasures: visiting shops of gorgeous lace clothes in Burano…
an exquisite shop in charming Burano
a delicious lunch starter of “cicchetti”: sarde saor (sweet and sour), canestrelli, baccalà mantecato on white polenta, and sauteed octopus in a medley of herbs and “Byzantine” spices.
and enjoying the specialties of the Lagoon – the freshest and most flavorful fish imaginable. When short breaks are so full of marvelous new stimuli, sights and smells…they seem so much longer – like “real” vacations. Such was the case during these idyllic days visiting the fascinating Venetian Lagoon!