Torcello is a laid-back island with only 10 or 11 permanent inhabitants, but at its height several thousand people lived there. Don’t let this figure fool you, though, as it’s packed with tourists looking at the Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta, Chiesa di Santa Fosta and the museum.
There’s a very expensive restaurant there, and Torcello is the place to take a date if you have a flash boat and want to get away from Venice.
Torcello and the malaria problem
Mosquitoes are a problem in a lot of Italy, but in Torcello they became untenable. Around the 12th Century the islands salt lagoons became marshes and malaria-carrying mosquitoes made it difficult for the residents so they left en masse to Burano, Murano and Venice.
Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta and Chiesa di Santa Fosca
While many of the original buildings have been dismantled within the last several hundred years by Venetians wanting to recycle building materials, these two churches still remain.
Chiesa di Santa Fosca dates from the 11th Century and has an interesting structure consisting of a square(ish) base with octagonal arcades and a round dome. It’s dominated, however, by the other, older church.
Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta was erected in the 7th Century (639 AD) and partially reconstructed in the 9th and 11th Centuries (you can see the different bricks on the square tower). To get in is quite expensive as far as basilicas go, so we didn’t. There are some mosaics to see, one of which is very similar to the gold Madonna in Murano, and we caught a glimpse through the door. However, we didn’t have much time because we were on a tour of Murano and Burano, too, and the tickets were going to be around 12 Euros each.
Outside the church are a number of artefacts, statues and partial columns that sit between the two sections of the museum. We didn’t have time to go in but it seemed to be a fair price and would have been a nice air-conditioned experience.
There’s a toilet near here, too, but they wanted E1.30. By the time you’ve spent E2.60 for two of you, you might as well spend E4 buying a drink and using one of the bar’s toilets.