Santa Maria dell'Assunta,Torcello
10:30 AM to 5:30 PM
Nov-Feb (November 1 to February 28)
10 AM to 5 PM
Awash with a tangibly ancient ambience and as tranquil as Murano is garish, Torcello was site of the first Venetian settlement in the 5th century, and it boasts the oldest church in the Lagoon. Take the waterbus from Fondamente Nuove (change at Burano) to explore Santa Maria dell’Assunta, founded in AD639 and adorned with medieval and Byzantine mosaics, including the detailed Last Judgement, in rich browns and golds, full of movement and horror, on the west wall of the nave. In the apse you’ll spy the delicate 13th-century mosaic of the Madonna and Child, set against the gold background of the curved walls. The rood screen in the main body of the basilica is Byzantine, decorated by panels depicting mythological animals, flowers, and birds. The adjoining church of Santa Fosca is pure Byzantine, with a rounded central dome, patterned brickwork, and an elegantly arched portico. Today Torcello, once home to 20,000 people, has a population of under 100; its canals are silting up and the deserted streets are dusty in summer, yet it retains a romantic appeal and the presence of the expensive Locanda Cipriani augurs that the island may soon find its commercial feet and thrive once again. For now, enjoy your trip back in time!