The Venetian Lagoon is a stretch of water 55km long comprised between two rivers flowing from the mainland; centuries ago, the Venetian Republic artificially moved the river-mouths so as to avoid that the detritus brought in could irreversibly inter the lagoon waters. Always changing, this environment is a constant grabbing game between land and water; the average depth of the water is 1 meter, which is why you will often see stretches of land one day and not the next; even if not associated with Venice, the great variety of animal and plant life is rather stunning. One troublesome phenomenon is that of acqua alta – high water – which floods Venice during winter-time because of the sea tides movements.
Lazzaretto Nuovo and sanità
Since 1346, the plague rampaged through Venice, halving its population with great ease. And so an island near the Lido was transformed into the Lazzaretto, where those who had caught the disease were confined and treated, almost always awaiting a near death. Now, that island was later renamed Lazzaretto Vecchio, or Old Lazaretto, when the Lazzaretto Nuovo was established, which is the long stretch of land on the right as you leave Murano towards Torcello; the Lazzaretto Nuovo was once a large monastery, but in the 15th century the Venetian State decreed that it should become a place for the prevention of contagion; and so people suspected of being plague-ridden, especially those on board incoming ships, were put in quarantena, meaning they had to spend 40 days on the island before being deemed clean and fit to enter the city. When the plague bouts ended in the late 16th century, the island was abandoned, and today is a great example of island recovery in the lagoon, at the centre of various cultural and historical projects.
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