original settlers arrived in the 5th Century, when the
tribe from what is now the Italian mainland--sought refuge from
barbarian invaders. They didn't settle on the 100 small islands that now
comprise the city's historic center, however: Instead, they chose
islands closer to the mainland, one of which--Torcello--became
the most important city in the Venetian Lagoon until the 12th Century,
when silt from rivers on the mainland began to turn the northernmost
reaches of the Laguna into a mosquito-infested swamp.
Today, the island of Torcello has a population of two
dozen or so (compared to an estimated 20,000 in its heyday), but it also
has reminders of its importance a thousand years ago--most notably the
Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, which was founded in 639 AD
and still has extraordinary Byzantine-style mosaics and marble floors
from the 11th and 12th Centuries.
Torcello is only five minutes from
Burano by public water bus. For more information on visiting this
quiet and historic island, see the
in our Venice Islands Tour
In the photos below:
The first image shows Torcello, with
Burano to the island's south. (From Burano,
it's only a 5-minute ride to Torcello by public water bus.) The ACTV
waterbus stop is barely visible in the wide channel that runs along
the left side of Torcello. Look for it at the foot of the pedestrian
road to the interior.
The second picture is a close-up of the route to the
cathedral, the Santa Fosca Church, and the small Torcello Museum. As
you walk from the waterbus stop (lower left) to the churches and
museum (top right), you'll pass several inns and restaurants--among
which is owned by the proprietors of Harry's Bar in Venice.