Venice nowadays attracts so many visitors year-round, that it is sometimes necessary to escape it all and look for an alternative destination near by. Torcello is such a destination. A boat ride will take you to Burano, from where it is easy to connect to Torcello. Instead of bustling canals and full streets, you will find an almost deserted island where farmers cultivate the lands and lone houses stand out of the marshy grounds. Following the only walkway will bring you to one of the few canals, leading up to the main square.
You can easily follow the time schedule of the boat as the square periodically fills with groups of people you haven't seen on your own boat. Torcello now houses only less than 100 people, but in its heyday, before the 14th century, it assumedly had some 50,000. In those days, it was a prospering trading island and a regional power. With the rise of Venice and several problems like malaria, Torcello declined into the low-profile island it is now. As far as sights are concerned, the main sight on the island is the Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral, proudly towering over the little square. I first climbed the tower, and although very windy, it offered great views over Torcello, Burano and other islands, with the skyline of Venice on the horizon.
The cathedral itself has a brilliant, tall mosaic on one side, painted panels in the middle, and frescoes in the apse. The floor also merits a closer look, since it has beautiful mosaic patterns. After the cathedral, I also saw the smaller church of Santa Fosca, and the throne of Attila, on which supposedly justice was delivered in days gone by. And then, on my way back to the boat, I came across a wedding party, who moved with me on the boat back towards Burano. The bride and groom joined in their wedding dresses, and queued for the boat to Venice in Burano. Just days before the wedding of my own sister, I was a coincidental witness of a real Venetian wedding taking a public boat to La Serenissima.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Torcello (Italy). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Torcello.
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