Venice Islands

Venice Islands rich of beauty and mystery

Mazzorbo is connected to Burano by a wooden bridge. Today, it is inhabited by a few families involved in the cultivation of kitchen gardens, vineyards and orchards. In the past, there were five parish curches, six monasteries and a number of noble villas. Today, the church of Saint Caterina is the only remaining one.

San Michele is located between Venice and Murano. Since 1800s, it houses the cemetery. In 1200s, Camaldolese’s monks built their Convent with the small church of Saint Michael beside. In 1440s, considerable enlargement works began which led to the construction of a bell tower dome. The statue of Michael’s Archangel while piercing through the dragon is placed on the right of Saint Michael’s church Gothic art portal. The current splendour of the church is due to Colussi (architect) who renovated it. The tripartita façade (commonly known as Three-lobe Beggarticks) is made of Istria stone with a charming main portal.

Sant’Erasmo overlooks the Adriatic Sea, but after the construction of Punta Sabbioni it became part of the lagoon. It is one of the largest islands in the lagoon. Famous are its gardens and its vineyards. In its area, a famous artichoke said “castraure” is cultivated. The important “Torre Massimiliana” so called because in 1848, during the insurrection, Archduke Maximilian of Hapsburg found refuge. The complex was built during the Napoleonic period and completed by the Austrians.

San Francesco del Deserto, the legend tells that he arrived on the island after a storm and stayed for a certain period. In 1229, the nobleman Jacopo Michiel ordered the construction of the church dedicated to St. Francis. It seems that the island has been forsaken for some time, hence the name “San Francesco del Deserto”. In the fifteenth century, Pope Pius II° gave the island to the Order of Friars Minor Practising. With the Napoleonic invasion, the monastery was turned into a barracks until 1856, when the Emperor Francis I° of Austria gave it to the patriarch of Venice. The monastery consists of two cloisters, one dating back to 1200s and the other to 1400s added with the restoration.

Lazzareto Nuovo, Formerly called “Vigna Murada”, it took the current name in 1458 when was used as a lazzareto with the purpose of infection prevention. In fact, in this place stayed people and goods which were to remain in quarantine. Lazzareto “Novo” was used to be distinguished from the “old” where evident plague cases were admited.

Quite interesting is the structure of “tezon grando” with a length of one hundred meters or more. It was used as a goods warehouse which were to remain in quarantine. On the walls, there are still evident merchants’ writtens who had to remain in compulsory isolation. From 1700s onwards, it passed through a period of decline in order to be later destined, under the Napoleon and the Austrian’s domination, to a military building. In the seventies, a total recovery of the building and the island started.

Punta Sabbioni was formed by the accumulation of sand coming from the construction of port of lido’s outlets. In the past, it was the main entrance of the lagoon, or rather, the one used by the Serenissima. Today, it has a series of fortifications built by the Austrians and then augmented until the Second World War. It is possible to visit by car or bicycle the natural oasis of “Lio Piccolo” with its typical lagoon environment rich of barene and typical “casoni”.

Pellestrina, an oasis of paradise between the sea and the lagoon develops between the port of Malamocco and Chioggia and, with its thirteen kilometers of coastline, divides the south lagoon from the Adriatic Sea. In 1700s, with a huge work, the Government of the Serenissima protected it from the erosion caused by the sea.

The atmosphere on the island is unique and, due to the fact that there are no tourist facilities, it has not been invaded by mass tourism yet. The town planning is similar to that of Venice with a number of narrow streets (calli) scattered among small coloured buildings. The economy is mainly based on fishing and mussels reproduction.

At the time of the Venetian Republic, it was also famous for the lace-making. Nowadays, it is an undamaged area and, for this reason, it has an unique flora and fauna disappeared alsewhere. Unusual is “Cà Roman” pinewood transformed into a natural protected oasis where two species of birds: kentish plover and friar nest.

Certosa with his twenty-two hectares and its rich vegetation of forests and plants of different origin, is located in the central lagoon of Venice. Once upon a time, the island was formed by two small islands divided by a canal and along with the island of Vignole and Sant’Erasmo formed a natural barrier in front of the port of Lido.

The channel between the two islands was filled in 1199. The bishop of Castello charged Domenico Franco, a priest of the church of Santa Sofia in Venice to build a temple and an Augustinian monastery in honor of St. Andrew the Apostle, which initially took its name the whole island. The island was abandoned by the Augustinians in 1419. In 1422, on the advice of San Bernardino da Siena, were called at St. Andrew the Carthusian of Florence who restored the buildings and added new buildings including fifteen cells organized around a cloister.

Even the church with works by many masters, including the Tintoretto war rebuilt. Since then, the island was called “San Bruno”, named after the founder of the Carthusian in France, or more commonly the “Certosa”. The island was used by some noble families for the burial of their beloved and abandoned by the Carthusian monks in 1806. Afterwards, with the suppression of religious orders by order of Napoleon, it was intended for military use and deprived of its art works. The island was also used by the Italian army for working military explosives and shooting range until the late ’60s.

After the closure of various military activities, the island was subjected to a slow and inexorable deterioration with the exception of the only historic building in place: the “sixteenth-century Casello delle polveri” located at the tip of the Island towards Sant’Elena. The rebirth of certosa committee was set in 1985 in order to protect the island from degradation and recovering it as Urban Park. Further initiatives have been promoted by the city of Venice as well as by other public bodies responsible for its preservation.

Thanks to the appropriate funding from the European Community, there was the recovery of the island as well as the restoration of historic buildings including the Casello delle polveri, and embellished the existing sheds.

Vignole belongs to the smaller islands of the Venetian lagoon and is located near the most famous Sant’Erasmo. Its richness of vegetation provides her an enviable fame and notoriety. It is divided by a canal and inhabited by very few people who are primarily dedicated to horticulture. It is connected by two bridges with the island of St. Andrew where there is the homonym strong. In the ancient times, it was known by the name of “Biniola or Isola delle Sette Vigne” (Vineyards).

It was a Venetians and perhaps a Roman resort. In the seventh century, two tribunes of Torcello provided for the construction of a small church in honor of St. John the Baptist and Santa Giustina. Nowadays, it is a small chapel dedicated to St. Erosia with a small bell tower along the very picturesque canal and military fortifications located opposite the island of St. Erasmo as a testimony to the defensive function of the island at the time of the Serenissima Republic.

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