From Marina di Venezia we want to explore some islands in the lagoon. First, we take the boat from the pier in Punta Sabbioni to the island of San Francesco del Deserto, next to the island of Burano.
San Francesco del Deserto
The island was inhabited already in the Roman period. But due to rising water levels, the people left the island around 650 AD. Only in the 13th century was it repopulated again.
In 1220 at his return from the Holy Land, St. Francis founded a hermitage here. This was the foundation of today’s monstery, built by the Order of Francescani Minori. They built the monastery with two cloisters.
Since there is no drinking water on the island, one built a water reservoir under the cloisters, to collect the rainwater. If you take a closer look, you will notice the inclined floor in the inner courtyards.
1420, the island was abandoned again because of the climatic conditions and thus received the name of San Francesco del Deserto. After more than 30 years, the monks return again. This time it’s the Frati Minori Osservanti. In the 17th century, the island served as a hospital for plague victims.
Napoleon conquered the area at the beginning of the 19th century. One closed the monastery and the monks had to leave the island once more. One melted the church bells to produce cannons. The next half-century, the island served as a powder magazine. At the request of the Austrians, the monks returned to the island again, in 1856.
Today, 5 monks still live in the monastery. On weekends, they offer seminars to strengthen inner contemplation. From the monastery garden, you can see the island of Burano and in the distance the Venice airport.
There is no public ferry service to the island of San Francesco del Deserto. You can only reach it by organized tours or private boats. Some guided tours use the typical Venetian boats in the lagoon, called Baragozzo.
Back at the boat, we sail towards Burano but do not go ashore. We circumnavigate Burano and continue to the island of Torcello.
Through a narrow channel, we reach the Vaporetto jetty and continue on foot.
In front of us the devil bridge, Ponte del Diavolo, a picturesque construction without banisters. There exist different legends about the name, probably none is true.
We walk along the canal until it turns off to the left. We go straight over the bridge, Ponte del Santa Maria. The beautiful old houses and palaces offer countless photo motifs.
The way widens to a square in front of the Catholic Church of Saint Fosca.
Next to it is the Church of St. Mary Assunta, a basilica church.
In a corner of the forecourt, you can see Roman, Byzantine and Venetian excavation finds. Here, we also find Attila’s Throne. But, the Hun King never sat on it, it served as bishop’s or judge’s chair.
Probably the island of Torcello was already inhabited in the 1st century. As of the 6th century, it became increasingly important as a bishop’s seat and central trading hub in the lagoon. In the 10th century, Torcello had 10,000 to 20,000 inhabitants and was more powerful than Venice.
Many cathedrals, churches, monasteries, and chapels were an important part of the infrastructure. And there was already a hospice.
Besides the trade, the glass making played an important role. As of the 12th century, the island became marshy and malaria spread. The inhabitants left the island and moved to Venice and Murano.
The place became insignificant. Of the 12 parishes and 16 monasteries, only the two mentioned still remained preserved. 20 inhabitants live on the island today.
Back on the boat, we continue our excursion. Next stop is Burano.
Please read on > Burano and Trattoria Ai Cacciatori
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