Tuesday, April 25, 2017

VENICE 2017: Torcello Island and the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta

As you surely know by now, Astrid and I tried to see every possible place of interest while in Venice during our 7 days. Torcello, the island farthest away and to the north of Venice, was one of our highlights.

It took us an hour on the vaporetto to get there.
(Wiki image)

To save our feet, knowing it would be a long day, we opted to sit inside to view what passed us by.
There are over 50 islands in the Venetian Lagoon, many of them only as big as a postage stamp.
When you finally see Torcello (bottom-right) you see why we went there.

From the vaporetto stop, there's only one way into the "village," population 60+/-.

The main drag, passing the cafés and 2 hotels, eventually gives view of the cathedral's bell tower.

But before you get there, you can't resist what I called the White House (a restaurant)!

Then you see it/them:  first the Church of Santa Fosca (center with dome) from the 11th century,
and next to it the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, with bell tower, founded in AD 639.
It's the oldest building in the Venetian Lagoon.

While purchasing our tickets, we discovered the bell-tower bells would strike noon in 20+ min.,
so we opted for climbing the ramped staircase of the bell tower, before entering the cathedral.
We made sure we were back down before the bells chimed because they were loud.
In fact, they warn you 5 minutes ahead of time before each hour.

But what a view from up on high!

We could even see Burano with its tilted tower, the island we would visit later that afternoon.

Down from the bell tower, we finally entered the Byzantine cathedral, a basilica.

The marble columns are from the 11th century.
The rood screen separating the nave from the chancel area...I wanted to know more.
The skull of St. Cecilia....

Behind the rood screen is the main aspe with its 11th cent. mosaic of the Virgin and the Apostles,
and its marble mosaic floors (where I saw a quilt!).

The present basilica is from 1008, but the marble pulpit is from fragments of the first 7th c. church.
On the west wall, over the main door, is the huge mosaic of the Last Judgment (12th century).

[No photos were allowed inside, which explains why I have so few. surreptitiously taken behind Astrid as my shield.
I can mention in comments why I "disobey" these rules, if you wish.]

Outside in the courtyard are Roman relics galore.
It's believed Attila the Hun used the marble seat as his throne (bottom-center) in the 5th century.

So many things to see...an outdoor museum.

We even walked around to the back of the complex where we got the bell tower in the sun.

The bigger picture, indeed!

By then it was time for lunch, at one of the cafés we had passed on our way in.

And then we were off to the nearby islands of Burano and Mazzorbo (next post)....


  1. Wow. One of my favourite posts ever. From the height to the mosaic...gorgeous!

    1. It was definitely one of the places we did not want to miss, Marie, after discovering it in our travel guide. So glad you liked it!

  2. It always amazes me when there is a small and large scale in the same spot (small town, large basilica). Just gorgeous, that patina and all that faded color. Some of it reminds me of Istanbul.

    1. I know, Ruth. My understanding is that in its heyday, there was actually a colony of 20,000 people! And now it's only a tourist spot.

  3. Beautiful. Of course I couldn't help but notice those huge seed pods. I've collected some from all over the world. Love!

    1. Thank you, Robin. We believe those are carob pods, just like what we saw in Malta last year.

  4. J'aime Venise à travers ton regard Ginnie, il nous montre des lieux moins connus des visiteurs et tout aussi beaux et intéressants. J'ai photographié des dizaines de fois la cathédrale de Sainte Marie de l'Assomption, elle est magnifique et tes photos excellentes. Merci

    1. I love that we both have seen some of these same places, Marie. Now I'd LOVE to see YOUR images of the same church!

  5. We never left the main area of Venice, so your outer island visits are enticing. Yes, every tower must be climbed. I have a long file of unopened blog entries from you, so I will eventually get to Venice.

    Things have been busy here, and I am in the midst of another publishing endeavor. Back in my tunnel.

    1. Most people are not in Venice for a week, Ted, so I can understand why you never left the main area of Venice. I was glad this particular tower had a ramp up instead of myriad stairs. I'm not good with too many stairs these days, after my knee replacement. I can walk forever but all the ups-n-downs across Venice nearly did me in every day. (sigh)

      I have assumed you are busy on a project, so not to worry. Do what YOU need to do. We're looking forward to seeing you soon!

  6. Attila the Hun?? no wonder those tree were protecting themselves!! and WHAT were those weird things HANGING from the trees?? snakes?!

    this mercury retrograde thing won't let me post as totallylike.me grr

    1. I know...Attila the Hun. Wish I remembered my history lessons better. HA! And those things hanging from the tree? I think they're carob pods...like what we saw in Malta last year.

  7. That is such a wonderful island, I loved the trip going there, I was outside all the time, enjoying myself. the things we see were amazing, Roman influences everywhere. Climbing that tour was fun, I always love to look from above HA. Again a wonderful memory to keep thanks to your wonderful posts. IHVJ.

    1. I would have hated to miss this if we had found out about it later, Astrid. Thank God for our travel books! And yes, the towers are a must, especially if they have easy access (like the ramp and lifts).