"Torcello -" Top 5 Page for this destination Torcello by suvanki

Torcello Travel Guide: 54 reviews and 107 photos


I'd been recommended this island by Mr and Mrs C - a couple of Venice addicts that I know.

So Christmas Day, I was heading for Burano, but the Vaporetto was so packed, that I 'jumped ship' at Torcello, intending to carry on to Burano later.

It was one of those perfect winter days - blue skies and a weak sun.

Alighting at the Vaporetto station, I spent some time admiring the views to Burano and back to Venice, and enjoying the peace and quiet, which was broken intermittantly by waterfowl and the water lapping against the bankside. It also gave me the chance to put a bit of distance between my fellow passengers, who were heading straight off down the path, so that we wouldn't all be arriving at the Basillica etc en masse.

A displayboard nearby showed a map of the island as well as warnings of work that was underway to improve the islands defences from tidal damage.
After stopping to phone my family to wish them Happy Christmas, I followed the path beside the canal. Passing the un - parapetted 'Devils Bridge', which was undergoing some repair work, I came upon a restaurant, where sounds of merriment were coming from inside. I was getting a bit peckish, but decided to continue on my exploration, and soon came across the main attractions of Torcello, all within a few metres of each other.

There is a display board and map, identifying the buildings etc, and giving some information about the history etc.

I was interested in looking at the relics displayed on the ground and walls. These included a bas relief of The winged Lion, with its paw on an open book - the symbol of Venice, gargoyles, religious figures, crests, coats of arms etc. Attilas Throne is found surrounded by more urns etc.

The Basilica Santa Maria Assunta, its Camponile, Santa Fosca and the museum were all closed, but there was still plenty to see.

I particularly enjoyed the garden, where some amusing statues were displayed amongst the vegetation of a vegetable garden.

Heading back to wait for the vaporetto, I was surprised to see a peacock in a garden, along with other birds, waterfowl, goats and a couple of cats.

There was quite a while to wait for the vaporetto, and I decided to get on the first one that arrived, Not minding whether it was heading to Burano or back to Venice.
I was more than happy to enjoy the changing light, and the changing colour of the sky and water. I took lots of photos of the water and sky.

I caught the next Vaporetto, which called in at Burano, but I decided to head back to Venice (via Murano) I decided that I'd rather visit Burano for a longer visit later.


It was quite hard to imagine, that at one time, Torcello had a population of 20,000, and held more importance than Venice.

It is the oldest continually populated region of Venice, although there are now possibly less than 20 full time residents.

Farming/ small holdings, fishing and a handful of restaurants /B&B's provide a living on the island.

The island had quite an isolated air, with fields and abandoned marsh land, and still canals. Being Winter time, this feeling was magnified.

It was strange to feel so isolated, but still have views of Venice, Murano and Burano.

History of Torcello

There has possibly been habitation here since the 5th century

638 AD Inhabitants from Altino/ Altinum - A Roman City, escaping the invading barbarians led by Attila the Hun, take refuge on the island of Torcello. Joined by the Bishop of Altinum, the island became his See, with the Cathedral beginning construction a year later, to house the remains of St Eliadorus, the patron saint of the island.

Legend states that the Bishop had a vision, in which he was ordered to climb the city tower. Here he saw stars over the island, and hence led its citizens to safety on Torcello

Torcello soon became an important cultural, trading, political and religious centre. Trading had originated with contacts in Constantinople. The salty marshes, providing lucrative income from its saline and salt.
By the 10th Century, Torcellos population was 10,000 at its zenith it was double this figure!

During the 12th century, The islands decline happened. The canals and waterways silted up, causing navigation problems. Land became swamp, and the laguna morte -(dead lagoon), attracted mosquitoes, which in turn infected the inhabitants with malaria.

From the early 9th century, the amphibious Torcello inhabitants, had been attracted to move to the central lagoon, and a mudbank known as Rialto.

Skills learnt on Torcello, in land reclaimation and construction of quays and buildings soon led to the birth of Venice.

During and after the 12th century, many of the islands inhabitants moved to join their pioneer ancestors on the expanding island of Venice.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Peaceful Island, Historical churches,
  • Cons:All the attractions are in the same area, so can get quite busy when the tour groups land.
  • In a nutshell:This is where Venice originated
  • Last visit to Torcello: Sep 2010
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (11)

Comments (2)

  • calcaf38's Profile Photo
    Nov 21, 2009 at 5:07 PM

    Great page about such a small destination. You can see on my new page that the Devil's Bridge is finished!

  • nickandchris's Profile Photo
    Jun 23, 2008 at 2:58 AM

    ?1 to use the toilet? Wow...... I guess you finally managed to get off the vaporetto where you wanted to!!


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