Wednesday 20 June 2012

A day on the Venetian lagoon

The day starts well with coffee and cornetti at an outdoor café in the lovely Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo ...

... also known as the campo delle meraviglie (square of marvels) because it houses both the Scuola Grande di San Marco (detail of its gorgeous facade with patiently-waiting dog below left) and the Basilica San Giovanni e Paolo (below right) where no fewer than 25 doges are entombed. 

Unfortunately I was only able to take a couple of pictures inside the basilica before being politely ejected for wearing a sleeveless dress, hence not being covered with due modesty. (Mea culpa - I should have known better; my daughters, dragged around cathedrals from infancy, had thought to bring scarves).

We head off past the Scuola (below, now a hospital - like no other I know!), alongside the canal ...

passing a lone gondolier ...

and a villa to dream of ...

This one would do nicely too ...

... one's laundry and transport both sorted, ma certo!

Our destinazione: the lagoon, to the vaporetto station of Fondamento Nuove, to catch a boat to the islands ... 

(No, not this one, but the Maria Vittoria, anchored nearby, was much prettier than the vaporetto).

Just under an hour later we hop off a tightly crowded boat to explore the island of Torcello in the north end of the Venetian lagoon

Torcello is a bit like a ghost island - there are no cars and a tiny population of well under a hundred people. But it used to be a thriving city: way back in the 5th century it was settled as a refuge by people escaping barbarian invasions. By the 10th century it had a huge population and was far more powerful politically and economically than Venice. 
Hard to imagine now ... as the lagoon around the island turned to swamps, and a breeding ground for malaria, it was gradually deserted ...

leaving behind these lush, semi-abandoned gardens and ruins, surrounded by the green swampy lagoon and an eerie quiet ...

... as well as the basilica of Santa Maria Assunta, which goes back to 639 AD and has awe-inspiring Byzantine mosaics lining walls, ceiling and floors. Nothing about the outside of this place prepares you for the beauty and grace of the inside. Sadly I have no photos - not because I was thrown out this time, but because photography is strictly forbidden. But see here for Jan Morris's lyrical description in the Financial Times of both the island and what she calls "the most moving church in Christendom".

We have lunch on the island, in the garden of Locanda Cipriani ...

right under the pergola below, a setting we might never want to leave

and even the long wait on the jetty and a hot, crowded vaporetto ride back to Venice seems a small price for this day on the lagoon.


  1. Oh I just LOVE this post, Karen. I love Venice and environs too, your photos are beautiful, especially the wash on the line. Keep having fun...

  2. Gorgeous images! :-)

    I am so glad you like my favourite island and place to have outdoor lunch in the Venetian Lagoon!

  3. Simply stunning! I particularly like the hospital photograph.

  4. Karen, the Venetian light and colors are so luscious! Thank you for showing me Torcello, a place I'd not seen before now.

    What a kind and generous traveller you are. xo

  5. Wow, I love your pics - you captured the atmosphere so lovely!! I need to get back to Venice soon!!

  6. Utterly lush
    What good light you had..
    I visited Torcello too..friends took me or I would have never ventured there and would have missed out big time.

  7. Quintessential Venice!
    These photographs are magnificent. Especially the ruins on Torcello, especially the blue peeling wall with the brass handle. Really especially everything. (Gondoliere shot is great too.)
    I was excited because I know that pasticceria, we sat there and rested our feet for a long while one day on our way back to our apartment. Oh to be in Venice, now that any month is there ---
    Thank you so much for sharing so generously.

  8. I'm starting to get this blogging thing...your photographs are absolutely beautiful - a way for me to see the world with you. So envious that I can't share these views with you in person.

  9. Silly me - above comment from me!


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