Daily life, religion, nature and protection of the Lagoon.
This image is the oldest prospective view of the Venice lagoon, published in 1528 in a book that will become known as "Isolario" and opens our journey between earth and water through time, to know Venice and its islands.
[Rari V. 111, B. Bordon, Libro nel qual si ragiona de tutte l'isole del mondo..., [Vinegia, Zoppino] 1528; ff. 29v-30r "Map of Venice". On concession of the MiBACT - National Marciana Library. Prohibition of copy.]
Having already belonged to the Hermits of St. Augustine, the island was enhanced in 1249 by a church dedicated to St. Mary of Nazareth, perhaps because pilgrims returning from the Holy Land gathered there. The remains of the cloister and well head can be seen in the picture. Already from the second half of the 16th century, these buildings were used to house crews and militias arriving from the Levant for preventive quarantine.
Torcello: sacred and profane. The island is one of the oldest populated areas in the lagoon, founded in the 7th century on the site of a Roman settlement by the inhabitants of Altino who were fleeing from the Lombards. Today it is almost completely uninhabited but offers us the remains and allure of its long history.
Il Ponte del Diavolo (The Devil’s Bridge). The origin of the name of the bridge is not certain, nor is the date of its construction. It is thought to be a nickname, “the Devils”, that was given to a certain Torcello family. Other suggestions are linked to a legend about a young girl who made a pact with the devil for the return of her lover, who had been killed. In any case, the distinctive feature of this bridge is its construction: together with the Ponte Chiodo (in Cannaregio), it retains the typical appearance of a Venetian bridges, built without a parapet.
According to legend, the Throne of Attila belonged to the king of the Huns, who led an invasion that terrorised an entire era, but which never actually reached this island. This ancient monolithic throne was probably used by the local governor in the administration of justice and for council meetings.
Since the days of the Republic of Venice, Burano has had a population of about 8,000 people, who lived modestly, mainly from fishing and agriculture. With the development of the handicraft and skill of its lace makers, it began to grow, prosper and become known for this extraordinary and unique product of patient hands.
Sant’Erasmo is the second largest island after Venice. From the most distant past, the island has served as the “garden of the Republic”, with cultivations of vegetables, violet artichokes, cardoons, asparagus, grapes and fruit. Recently, due to a desire to restore the island’s ancient identity and culture, the vineyards have been replanted in an ideal location in order to grow and restore the gastronomic importance of the island.
The Cà Roman nature reserve on the island of Pellestrina is one of the most beautiful places in the Venetian lagoon. Although classified as a semi-natural environment, it provides a habitat for nearly 200 species of birds, both migratory and resident, according to a survey in 2012. In order to ensure an ever-smaller impact of human presence on the oasis, the beaches are cleaned without the use of mechanical means. This is in an attempt to preserve a shoreline microfauna that is unique in the world (including particular species of beetles) and in danger of extinction.
The Murazzi: an engineering work by the Venetian Republic, built from Istrian stone to defend the lagoon from the erosion of the sea. The work is divided into three parts: on the island of the Lido, the island of Pellestrina and the Sottomarina coastline. Here we see a picture taken on the island of Pellestrina.
Military defence of Venice and the lagoon. The Fort of Sant’Andrea on the island of Vignole. Built on the ruins of previous structures, the fort in its present form originates from the mid-16th century. Two episodes have made the fort known to history. One of the most famous and troublesome characters of the Republic, Giacomo Casanova, was imprisoned here for a few months in 1743. A single shot was fired from the Fort of Sant’Andrea on 12 May 1797, which decreed the end of the Most Serene Republic. The shot struck the French ship, Liberateur d’Italie, killing its captain. The fury of Napoleon was swift: he managed to definitively breach the city’s defences, forcing it to capitulate.
Ilaria Perin and Cristina Pittarello