Torcello is a perfect place to escape the crowds and experience a different side of Venice. Only about a dozen people live on the ancient island, so a trip there is like going back in time. You can tour the Basilica, visit one of the Venice museums, and explore the nearby Burano island.
Torcello is only 5 minutes away by ferry from Burano, and both Venice islands are worth the visit. Besides, you can combine them into an exciting one-day Venice itinerary. To reach Torcello from the city, take a vaporetto at Fondamenta Nuove or San Zaccaria. You can use our Venice map for navigation and planning.
Torcello is a 5th-century island in the lagoon. Its first settlers were the Altini, a population from the mainland. They fled from the Longobards' invasions. The Altini brought great wealth, including building materials and relics of saints. Along with Burano and Mazzorbo, it was the first lagoon settlement. From the 10th century, it was the most important trade center with the East. As the Rialto community grew through trade, Torcello became a religious center. But with time, the island lost its splendor due to its marshy areas and the malaria epidemic. These problems drove the remaining island's population towards Venice.
Why you should visit
Did you know that Ernest Hemingway spent some time on the island in 1948? That's because Torcello is an enriching experience off the beaten path. Its main attraction is the 7th-century Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta. This Venice church was one of the first buildings in the lagoon. It features Late Paleochristian architecture and the earliest mosaics in the area. It also has a magnificent bell tower offering a great view of Torcello Island. Another Venice church to see there is Santa Fosca, a part of the Basilica's complex.
When in Torcello, remember to see the famous Devil's Bridge. Together with Ponte Chiodo di Cannaregio, it is one of the bridges without a parapet. According to the legend, the devil built it in one night to win a bet. In addition, history buffs can visit Torcello's Museum. Inside this Venice museum, you'll find archaeological remains found on the island. The building of the museum is Palazzo del Consiglio, a Gothic-style palace built in 400.