The small islands of the Venetian Lagoon

The small islands of the Venetian LagoonA trip to discover the small islands of the Venetian Lagoon, scattered jewels in a wide expanse of shallow water between the lagoon and the sea.


The Island of San Servolo

San Servolo is situated right in the central lagoon near St Mark’s. It has a thousand year history.  It was first settled at the end of 600 and it is one of the few to have a history of its own.
The Venetian province has done much to regenerate San Servolo. Today it is the Headquarters for  an International University, has a congress centre, a museum and a full programme of events from art to photography to music, cinema, literature and theatre..

The Island of the Certosa

The Certosa is only 250 metres from the Venetian district of St Pietro di Castello, not much more than 500 metres from Lido and is closet to the Vignole Island and the military fort called Forte di Sant'Andrea.
Its name comes from the Certosini Fathers from Florence who settled it in 1424.  It was abandoned for years.  It is now an example of combined forces, financed by the European Community, Legge Speciale and the Venice City Council. A park has been created and a nautical centre called Vento di Venice and the very newly established Institute of European Design.

The Island of Santa Cristina

Santa Cristina can be found in the northern part of the lagoon, north of Treporti. For size it is the largest of the 33 lesser islands found in the lagoon.  It was once called the island of St Mark.  It is now private property.

The Island of Sant'Erasmo

Saint Erasmo is in the northern part of the lagoon. Up until the end of the 1800s it was a real seaside residence in close proximity with the Adriatic Sea. Piers were then built that caused channels and the current deposited dune like accumulations of sand.  This led to the creation of  Punta Sabbioni – which is a sort of peninsular town now blocking access from the island to the sea. It was once known as Alba or Mercede and had fertile terrains perfect for growing vegetables and large pine trees. It is known as the vegetable garden of Venice.

The Island of  San Giacomo in Palude

San Giacomo in Palude is situated centrally in the lagoon, north east of Murano.
Recent archaeological finds confirm the islands late medieval orgins.  In the summer of 1975, after some years of desertion, Venice’s Biennale art and architectural exhibition, used one of the old military warehouses to present theatre. San Giacomo in Palude si trova nella laguna centrale a nord-est di Murano.

The Island of Lazzaretto Nuovo

Lazzaretto Nuovo is centrally placed in the lagoon.  It was strategic in that it was close to St Erasmo and at the time was at the mouth of lagoon port. Like the islands of  Poveglia and S. Clemente, it was a stop off, even in Roman times for the Fossa Popilia, which linekd Chioggia to Altino. From 1468 the island took its name from the saint because it became a quarantine station for people suspected to be plague infected and therefore carriers.
t was abandoned for a time and was then used by the Ekos Club Association and the Venice Airclub (Archeoclub Venezia).

The Island of Salina

Salina is in the northern part of the lagoon. It was the central part of the very old  San Felice island which is one of the bits of land that formed the Ammiana archipelago. The name means ‘salt’ and was introduced towards the middle of the last century.  It was chosen as the centre of a large sea salt production centre. Today the island is privately owned.

The Island of Buel del Levo

Buel de Levo  is in the northern part of the Island to the west of Mazzorbo. It was called  batteria Sali Marco in the past. It was an artificial military emplacement from the 18th century whose job was to defend the lagoon from enemies from the sea. Today the island is in private ownership.

The Island of San Lazzaro of the Armeni

San Lazzaro of the Armeni is a little isalnd in the southern lagoon. It is the home of the Mekhitaristi Order and one of the first centres in the world of Armenian culture. Lord Byron studied the language on the island in 1816 taking advantage of its long history of hospitality. He records his love of the famous Vartanush, a jam made from rose petals that the monks produced  from the rose gardens and still do to this day.

The Island of San Francesco of the Desert

San Francesco del Deserto is situated in from the Sant'Erasmo. It is an oasis of peace and mysticism.  It is recognisable by its row of cypresses which can be seen as one approaches the island. Its spiritual origins coincide, according to legend, with the arrival of St Francis of Assisi in 1220. He stayed on the Island on his return from Egypt but many dispute the accuracy of the story. The word ‘desert’ in the name comes from the fact that a few centuries after the Franciscans established themselves on the island, the wasting away of the island itself made them desert it altogether. They then returned in 1453.

The Island of the Vignole

The Vignole, as it is known, is found in the cental part of the lagoon.  It is a wedge shaped bit of sandy land between S. Erasmo and Lido. It was once called Biniola, or also “delle sette vigne” ‘of the seven vines’ and it was one of the elite holiday destinations for residents of Altino before those of Venice became popular.
According to the poet  Marziale, the magnificence of its residences were superior to those of Pozzuoli.

The Island of Poveglia

Poveglia can be found in the southern part of the lagoon in front of Lido’s Malamocco district.a Malamocco.  After Longobardo invasions in the 6th century and the destruction of Padua, Popilia (or Poveglia) was populated by refugees from the mainland and became one of the first settled islands.  It was further settled during the Battle of Chioggia because it was a good defensive post.  It was abandoned during the last century and is now undergoing modifications.

di :venews
aprile 2007

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