A perfect Saturday afternoon on the Venetian Lagoon
Yesterday we took a boat from Lido di Venezia over to Fondamente Nuove. From there it’s Line 12 to Torcello via Murano (the glass-maker’s island) and then Burano (the lace-making and fishermen’s island) before arriving at Torcello. Probably the island in the lagoon with the richest and longest history.
On the way across the lagoon there’s a great view of Lorenzo Quinn’s ‘Building Bridges’ which has been installed at the very furthermost point of the ‘Arsenale’. A series of hands joined over the water in a symbolic gesture of unity, co-operation and friendship. The hands are all moulded from Quinn’s family members; son, wife, mother-in-law, these are real hands, real people, demonstrating real connections.
Torcello was a port and fishing village during the days of the Roman Empire. In fact the nearby Roman town of Altinum, on the mainland, used Torcello as a transhipment point. Cargoes were loaded onto boats and moved down a series of waterways linking the Roman town with the lagoon. Then in Torcello goods would be loaded onto larger ships for export to Southern Italy, Greece and the Dalmatian Coast.
A visit to Torcello however, isn’t just about history and the past. It’s also about the lagoon, it is an opportunity to explore and appreciate this vast wetland area that offers a unique habitat to a vast array of wildlife, numerous types of birds and a healthy marine population of fish. There are fruit and vegetable gardens too. The islands of the lagoon are returning slowly to their original role as the producers for the city of Venice. Nearby is the island of Sant’Erasmo famed for a unique type of artichoke, grown in its sandy, slightly salt soil. Whilst on Mazzorbo there are vineyards, producing a unique and very particular white wine, straight from the Venetian Lagoon.
- A visit to Torcello and to the lagoon of Venice enables us to understand and appreciate the history and origins of this incredible maritime community. A watery environment offering a safe and protected anchorage. But also a lagoon that offered security, food and a livelihood for local Veneti people. Later the Romans, citizens of Altinum, headed to the lagoon, fleeing the mainland in the last days of the Roman Empire. They built a community here. Years later the commercial focus of Venice shifted to Rialto, leaving Torcello to fade gradually over the centuries. A fascinating insight into the history of the lagoon and the history of Venice is to be found on the island of Torcello.
Torcello is surrounded by wet lands and marshes, a perfect sanctuary for all types of wildlife and birds!