Torcello, the Byzantine island

Torcello, the Byzantine island

Torcello is a small island in the Venetian Lagoon. A town that today has only 10 inhabitants, but was once the first inhabited island in the Lagoon.

Torcello: the first center of civilization

Torcello was inhabited as early as Roman times probably only as a refuge for a few noble families; later it was abandoned when the surrounding lagoon was silted up. When the Barbarians arrived in the 5th and 6th centuries, the inhabitants of the coastal town of Altino took refuge first on Torcello and then on the other islands in the lagoon.

Torcello had its own self-government with its own magistracy and became an important center thanks in particular to the wool industry, but increasingly rich and powerful Venice was the cause of its ultimate decline.

What to see in Torcello?

The Cipriani Inn, where Hemingway lived

The island was once a favorite destination for great writers and artists. Stepping off the vaporetto, past a short road that runs along a canal, you can see the Locanda Cipriani where Hemingway lived.

Throne of Attila

Crossing a bridge, you come to the Piazzetta a grassy area with a rough marble seat that legend has it was Attila's throne. In fact, the king of the Huns never sat there; as experts say, the stone throne was used to administer justice.

Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption

Around the square you will see the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. Founded in the year 639, it is one of the oldest Venetian-Byzantine buildings still remaining in the lagoon.

The church of St. Fosca and the Museum of Art and Archaeology

Other landmarks include the bell tower, dating back to the 11th century, some remains of the Baptistery, the Church of Santa Fosca, and the Museum of Art and Archaeology.

The Devil's Bridge

Torcello has only two bridges, one of which is the Devil's Bridge, built in the 15th century. The name seems to go back to the family of the Devil who once lived on the island.

The vegetable gardens of Torcello

Peculiarities of Torcello are the vegetable gardens that the few remaining islanders still cultivate.

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