While Torcello remains mostly a derelict sight, it is one of the most unusual destinations to visit in the Venetian Lagoon. Indeed, this unusual destination for the least mainstream tourists, the formerly glorious Torcello is located about 8 kilometers from Venice, marking the northernmost extremity of the lagoon.

Torcello was, in fact, the first piece of land of the lagoon ever inhabited by the ancient Veneti who, forced to retreat in front of the overwhelming barbaric invasions and from the Hun menace, found shelter here. Economically speaking, Torcello used to thrive on the salt trade, becoming in time a reputed economic and even political power, as well as the most populated of all the islands in the lagoon. Its decay came, however, no later than the 12th century when, by force of the unfortunate geographical circumstances (the lagoon waters turned into a marsh impossible to navigate on), the economic spark slowly faded out, forcing the population to move to the southern islands (Burano, Murano and even Venice).

Most of the architectural patrimony of Torcello disappeared too, since the wealth of churches and palaces was brought down and turned into construction material for other buildings in Venice. There are, however, several landmarks which call forth, even if only vaguely, the past glory of the island. We speak here of sights like the 7th century Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta (built in a time when Torcello maintained excellent relations with the Byzantine Empire, a context easily visible from the architectural style of the church ), the 11th century Church of Santa Fosca (located in the proximity of the cathedral, and built in a purely Byzantine style) and the Torcello Estuary Museum (housed in Palazzo dell’Archivio and in Palazzo del Consiglio, which, by means of its exhibits, tells the story of Torcello since its foundation until the 16th century).

The virtually uninhabited island of Torcello is, thus, ideal for people who love to search out deserted places. Their thrill will definitely be complemented by the so-called Ponte del Diavolo (Devil’s Bridge) which, instead of representing an awe-inspiring sight, stands out as a rather picturesque arch over the canal, perfectly blending in with the general quiet vibe. Even if deserted, the island of Torcello allures visitors with a special je ne sais qoui which mixes together the nostalgia of a glorious history and the admiration for the dignity with which, even if few, the traces of the past still stand their ground (the sight was, amongst others, immortalized by Hemingway in one of his masterpieces).

Several water bus lines managed by ACTV make the connection between Venice (or other islands of the lagoon) and Torcello, which is why they can be deemed the solution at hand for people in search of a less mainstream vacation pursuit.



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