Nowadays, the island of Torcello is part of Venice, but it used to be an important town in its own right, mainly thanks to its wool processing industry. The main attraction is the ancient Cathedral, with its baptistery and the Santa Fosca Martyrium. Of the main islands of Venice, Torcello is probably the quietest and most peaceful one.
Torcello island Venice
History and description
The original name of Torcello was Dorceum or Turricellum. In the heyday of this settlement, tens of thousands of people used to lived on the island. In the early Middle Ages it was an important port, with three canals leading to the sea. The main industries were metal, glass and wool processing. The importance of the city is also indicated by the fact that it was a bishop’s seat from the 7th to the 17th centuries.
In 1272, an ordinance was even issued indicating that wool-working was exclusively assigned to the island.
As late as in 1795, there were still over 700 mansions on the island, which was then as many as there were in Venice itself. This is despite the fact that decay had already set in slowly in the 15th century. This was mainly due to natural changes on the island. The harbors silted up and the island became more marshy, leading to a major problem with malaria.
Of the many churches that once existed on the island, almost nothing remains and very few people live on the island.
What to see
Torcello‘s biggest tourist attraction is the Cathedral, which, together with the Baptistry and the Santa Fosca Martyrium, is part of a large complex. The martyrium has a portico, which covers five of its sides.
The Torcello Museum is located across from the cathedral. It houses medieval artifacts and archaeological finds from the Paleolithic to the Roman period, as well as a large stone throne known as Attila’s Throne.
The Casa Museo Andrich is a house museum displaying more than 1000 artworks and has an educational farm and garden with a view of the lagoon, where you can see flamingos from March through September. Booking is mandatory.
The Locanda Cipriani is a historic hotel, where Hemingway supposedly wrote part of “Across the River and Through the Trees”.
The Ponte del Diavolo (“Devil’s Bridge”) is one of only two bridges in Venice without a railing.
The island can be reached by line 12 and line N (night service).