The island of San Michele cemetery is located just in front of the waters of Fondamente Nova between Venice and Murano. According to some legends it was a hermitage and San Romualdo dei Camaldolesi stayed there. In 1839 the island of San Michele was united with the island of San Cristoforo della Pace by filling in the canal that divided them. This decision was taken in order to create an island to house a city cemetery. The aim was to avoid widespread diseases that were common in highly concentrated places like Venice. Before the island was designed, the bodies of Venetians were traditionally buried in church cemeteries.
This island has much to offer visitors and requires at least a couple of hours to visit. After taking the vaporetto from Fondamente Nove you will arrive in San Michele after a few minutes. On the waterbus ride, look to your right for Dante's Chiatta with Virgil. This bronze work by Georgy Frangulyan immortalises the two poets on a gondola, while Dante shows Virgil the way.
Next to the island's pier stands the church of San Michele in Isola. The church was designed by Mauro Codussi and finished in 1479. It was the first church in Venice to be clad in white Istrian stone and was the seat of a prestigious Camaldolese monastery. Of great beauty is the Emiliani Chapel inside.
Most of San Michele is covered by the cemetery. The architect Annibale Forcellini designed the cemetery in 1872. Historical figures such as the poet Ezra Pound and the composer Igor Stravinsky are buried in the cemetery. Also remembered are the creator of the Russian ballet Sergej Diaghilev, the painter Emilio Vedova, the writer Josif Brodsky and the coach Helenio Herrera. The cemetery is also home to many Italians such as Carlo and Gasparo Gozzi, Teodoro Ferrari, the Venetian Giulio Lorenzetti, Emilio Vedova, Roberto Calasso and many others.
This cemetery is part of the historical and cultural heritage of the municipality of Venice and is a tourist destination. Today Venetians are buried on the mainland.
If you visit Venice and plan to visit Murano, we suggest you disembark, before or after, on the island of San Michele.