Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Before there was a “Venice,” there was Torcello.
Six miles from Venice across a vast stretch of water, lies a mysterious island with only 30 inhabitants : the island of Torcello. Torcello was the first island to be settled in the lagoon, long before the present day Venice. The people of the lagoon were originally from the Roman city of Altino which came under threat in the 5th century from barbarian invasion. To flee the Barbarian they settled in this Island that they called Torcello. Until the 10th century Torcello was the greatest commercial centre in the lagoon, full of palaces, churches and even a grand canal. In its prime the population of Torcello was about 20,000 but it fell into decline after it was struck with a series of natural disasters. From the 12th century Torcello rapidly deteriorated as malaria spread causing the population to turn to the more accessible area around the Rialto - the heart of the spectacular new Venice that was emerging. Today Torcello is largely deserted. Apart from a few farmers with small holdings most of the people who work here are involved with the tourists who come to see the few places of interest remaining on the island. Venice scavenged the ruins for building materials, so most of its buildings and palaces have now utterly vanished . But worth the visit are still two churches: Santa Maria Assunta, the cathedral of Torcello and the little church of Santa Fosca, a simple but charming Romanesque construction often used for romantic weddings. The is also a small archeological museum and the island is also home to a world-famous restaurant, famous because Hemingway loved it, called Locanda Cipriani. There are also some Medieval ruins and two palaces, Palazzo Dell’Archivio and Palazzo Del Consiglio, a campanile (bell tower) that you can climb for some really nice views and a very popular attractions is the Atilla’s Throne, a big stone throne that was probably the seat of Bishop of the Island. And of course Il Ponte Del Diavolo, the Devil Bridge, one of the only two bridges of Venice without “spallete”, railings.
It is a small island with a mysterious and bewitching atmosphere that you will not easy forget and worth a visit.
From Venice With Love,
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