The Island of Torcello

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Torcello Venice Italy

Visit Venice’s original settlement 'Torcello'. Escape the Venice crowds with a ferry ride over the vast expanse of the lagoon to this peaceful and lush island.

A reward for those who visit this laid back island. So are you ready for it?

Arriving in Torcello you have to walk along the canal from the landing platform. It felt like arriving in a nature park. The hazy weather made it even more mysterious.

I enjoyed the peace and silence of this almost empty island. It was in April and still early in the season. Maybe there were only 15 tourists on the island. Restaurant Locande Cipriani was open. The old bell tower and the basilica were waiting for me.

How to get there

Torcello Boat station

To get there you take the LN route "Laguna Nord": Several types of boat operate on this route to reach these islands.

You take line 12: From the Fondamenta Nove station in Venice. This line runs with vaporetto boats to Murano-Burano-Treporti-Punta Sabbioni.

Take off at Burano and change to vaporetto line 9 ‘Torcello’. (The boat normally runs twice an hour in both directions during the day.)

From Venice it’s a beautiful 60 minute ferry ride. The LN route is wheelchair-accessible. I took the LN route from S. Zaccaria station (near San Marco), this is also possible.

History of the island Torcello

From the 5th century, mainlanders fleeing invading Lombards and Huns ventured across tidal flats. They found a settlement that grew to 20.000 and lasted 1.000 years.

However a few clues to the past remain, as the canals silted up, malaria decimated the population and the power base shifted to Venice once and for all. Today the small island is the home to a handful of gardeners and fishermen.

Things to see on the island

Torcello mosaics basilica

Some of the most breathtaking Byzantine mosaics in the world, found in the lagoon’s oldest building. This is the basilica of Santa Maria Assunta, founded in 639. The basilica is decorated with mosaics and a 13th-century mosaic shows the Virgin in a blue robe with gold fringing, cradling her radiant child in a gentle stance.

The views from the simple 55m (180ft) Campanile (bell tower) range over the vast expanse of the lagoon. On clear winter days you can see the north of the Alps. One of the first objects in front of the basilica is the marble armchair. By popular belief this was the throne of Atilla, the king of the Huns. Historical sources claim it was for the island’s magistrates.

Restaurant on the island Torcello

Locanda Cipriani: A nice restaurant and a favorite of Ernest Hemingway, who stayed here in 1948. The quiet charm of this guest-house has attracted VIPs since it opened in 1938.

Locanda Cipriani overlooks a garden and you are allowed to explore the island after the daytrippers have left. You will find this restaurant at the end of the main canal. For more information go to their Locanda Cipriani >

Discover the northern lagoon:

Morning: Buy a Laguna Nord (LN) day ticket. Then take a vaporetto to Murano to watch a glassmaking demonstration at a furnace.

Walk next to Murano's own Grand Canal towards the Faro (light-house) vaporetto landing place. It's a nice place to enjoy a cup of coffee. Take a ferry to Burano. Eat lunch at DA Romano Restaurant.

Northern Lagoon Route Enlarge

Afternoon: Pop over to Torcello by ferry for the mosaics in the basilica. Climb the ancient bell tower for the unbeatable views of the lagoon and the mountains.

Return to the water on a ferry via Burano south past low-lying islands and tidal flats. The ferry takes you further to Punta Sabbioni, where a stopover is feasible for a drink on the jetty.

End the day sailing across the broad lagoon mouth, via the Lido back to Piazza San Marco.

There is plenty to explore as you see. Discover Venice on my site and get more information about this beautiful city.

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