Beyond Venice: discovering Torcello.

You may have heard of Murano, homeland of the homonymous glasses, or maybe of the island of Burano, famous for its laces and the coloured houses. But, almost certainly you haven’t heard that much about Torcello.

Today, we will take you to discover this island of the lagoon of Venice, situated in the north of Mazzorbo and Burano. The first thing you’ll probably notice is… silence! In fact the island is almost empty, there are eleven residents, but it is exactly its aspect a bit neglected and wild that makes a walk here so nice, especially if compared to those taken in the overcrowded city of Venice.

If you have never been to Torcello, you absolutely have to note it down on your “to do list” for your next stay in Venice!

Why choosing this experience?​

1. Because it will take you back in time, at the discovery of one of the most ancient places of the lagoon of Venice.

2. To visit the Basilica of Torcello and admire its splendid mosaics and - now - also two mysterious places concealed to visitors for centuries (the crypt and the sacristy). 

3. Because you can give yourself a few hours far from the city chaos, surrounded by nature in the mystic atmosphere of the island. 

Torcello, the most ancient of the populated islands.​

The development of this island took place after the transfer of the inhabitants from the flourishing city of Altino, devastated by the barbarian invasions of the hinterland, becoming one of the main centres of the Venetian lagoon in a short time.
Due to the increasing influence of the city of Venice, soon the inhabitants of Torcello migrated to the near powerful city, abandoning the island to a slow but inexorable decline.

Today the island preserves the memory of its ancient splendour in a few buildings that resisted the erosion of time, as the Church of Santa Fosca, the Ponte del Diavolo (the Devil’s Bridge), the Museum of Torcello and the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta. 
Today, on this little island, live permanently 11 inhabitants. It seems that once 30.000 people lived  here…Quite difficult to imagine it so populated if you see it now!

Two tips on Torcello.​

1. Hemingway often stayed in Torcello and here wrote his novel "Across the River and into the tree".
2. The Devil’s Bridge is one of the rare examples left of bridges without parapets.

Having said that, it is time to leave in the discovery of this jewel of the lagoon of Venice.

How to reach Torcello​

With public means of transport: with an ACTV water bus “line 12” to Burano and then line” 9” to Torcello (every 30 minutes). The water bus ticket costs 7.50 € each way. Alternatively, you can buy a 23€ daily pass. But if you live in the Veneto Region, the most advantageous option, is to become cardholder of  Venezia Unica that will allow you to benefit from the fare of 1.50€ each way, for five years.
With a water-taxi or with private means of transport (is more fascinating but alas more expensive!)
With an organized excursion: there are many private boats that organize tours to discover the main islands of the lagoon of Venice. More information here.

What to visit

Once you get off the water bus, there is no way to get lost: in Torcello there is only one street that runs along the canal, a “Fondamenta” which winds through semi-abandoned lands where you can find a couple of nice typical restaurants.

Along the way you will come across the famous “Devil’s Bridge”, the only medieval bridge left characterized by lacking parapets and by a few wide steps. To this day the origin of the name “Ponte del Diavolo” has not yet been discovered.
Some say that “Diavoli” was the nickname of a local family, others say that there’s another legend, according to which it was the Devil itself who built the bridge in a night, but, that the bridge is without parapet because the Devil probably didn’t manage to finish it before dawn.

Continuing along the way you’ll come to a clearing that hosts the “carega de Atila”, that is Attila’s throne, where - maybe - once the local authority administered justice. According to legend, Attila used this seat made of stone after invading the island. But there’s no proofs that the King of the Huns really used it, however it is suggestive to see this marble throne placed in the heart of Torcello.

It is perhaps the most ancient Venetian monument, of Venetian-byzantine style (it apparently dates back to the VII century), preceding the Basilica of Saint Mark of two centuries. Go visit it (the admission fee is 5€).
You’ll be impressed by the shining golden mosaic of the “Final Judgment” that covers the back wall. You can also visit two places prohibited to the visitors for centuries: the crypt and the sacristy. Out of the Basilica take a look at the two gothic palaces that overlook the churches - seats of the ancient government - and the portico that gathers funerary aedicules and various fragments dating back to Roman Times. 
Going around the Basilica towards Campiello Lazzar, you can seat along the Canal to enjoy the view of the imposing bell tower made of bricks that stands out high in the sky.

Born in the late nineteenth century for the will of cultured and distinguished Venetian collectors. The Museum is structured in two exhibiting sections: the Archaeological one and the Medieval and Modern one. Here you can find out about the thousand-year history of the island and its connections with the hinterland and with Venice.
The Museum opens to the public Tuesday to Sunday from 10:30 am to 5:30 pm in the summertime (March - October) and 10:00 am to 5 pm in the wintertime (November - February). 
Admission fee: 3,00€ - 1,50€ reduced price

Where to sleep in Torcello:

  • Locanda Cipriani: surrounded by a beautiful garden.

Where to eat in Torcello:​

  • Locanda Cipriani: the menu is always a wise interpretation of the local dishes and products.
  • Ristorante Villa '600: a family-run business and typical Venetian cooking.
  • Osteria Al Ponte del Diavolo: for special occasions.
  • Ristorante Al Trono di Attila: perfect to discover Torcello and its tastes.

And then the grand finale…

While waiting the water bus to go back to Cavallino Treporti, in front of you an extraordinary as unexpected golden sunset will open up! Enjoy it completely during the navigation.

But it’s not over yet. There’s a drink waiting for you at the Osteria “Ai do Campanili”, in the old square of Treporti , followed by a romantic dinner by candlelight in one of the many typical family-run restaurants, such as the “Locanda Zanella” or the Osteria “Dal Pupi”.

Once again Venice and its islands have been able to give you a wonderful day, good for the soul and for the heart! #staytuned

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  • Municipality of Cavallano Treporti
  • Via dei Forti
  • Veneto - Land of Venice
  • Venice Sands