Thursday, 17 September 2009

Tranquil Torcello

(Moonlight over Torcello)
The out-lying islands of the Lagoon have been a revelation; many are now deserted and returned to nature, only just keeping their heads above water. Most had another incarnation during their history, from defensive strong posts, disease isolation hospitals, penal complexes to market gardens.
Torcello is a little gem of 20 inhabitants* and some disturbingly, early-rising cockerels. In the 10th century it had a population of at least 10,000 people and was much more powerful than Venice but now it is fields with a path leading across the island from the vaporetti stop past the Ponte del Diavolo, or Devils Bridge to the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta full of glorious Byzantine mosaics. What few moorings are available are located in the shadow of the Cathedral bell tower and completely deserted after the last vaporetti leaves taking any sightseers with it. In the early morning one has the island to oneself to explore in eerie stillness, a rare treat and difficult to find elsewhere in Venice. By the side of the mooring is a beautifully laid out little vineyard, full of ancient statutes, the grapes appear to be a sweet (not tested but oh, so tempting) white variety, maybe used to make Vino Santo, a few bottles of which have found their way into my luggage for reminiscing over winter evenings. Torcello has a few smart restaurants along the island’s path, which only open for lunch to serve day-trippers and so we had to make our own supper onboard which was no hardship having stocked up with a few local delicacies such as Radicchio Treviso and Rossa Verona, good both cooked and raw in salad and a selection of antipasti tasty treats like olives, sun dried tomatoes and baby artichokes. We also found the local wines sold from vast steel vats by the litre amazingly good quality especially as they cost only a one and half euros; we’re not going to starve or, for that matter, stay sober for long.

*I read it was about 60 but will happily give way to wikipedia’s collective knowledge.

Our morning mooring neighbour
Beautiful des-res on a tiny island opposite the Torcello mooring (with it's own heli-pad, definitely how the other half live!)
Vineyard next to mooring
View of Burano from the top of the campanile of Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta
The view on being rudely awoken by over zealous cockerels.
To be continued, tomorrow, Sant'Erasmo and Vignole as we inch ourselves ever closer to Venice.


chaiselongue said...

This looks stunning. I've only just realised you're posting about this trip (thanks to blip) and now I'm off on holiday too. Will definitely have a good look at all your posts when I get back. Have a great time ... how could you not!

Rob (ourfrenchgarden) said...

I'm glad the wine 'en vrac' is good.

I know Vin Santo. You can dunk those crunchy almond biscuits in it if you want. I reckon that ruins it mind. You've picked the perfect time of year to travel. Believe me I know that!

What a great holiday.


PS, Keith Floyd passed away. I was devastated:) Irreplaceable.

sweet bay said...

What an interesting place and an interesting account! I love hearing about places like these.

Woodland Fay said...

chaiselongue - have a wonderful Pays Basque holiday, if I wasn't here I would want to be there, bring me back a morsel of Brebis.
Rob - Keith Floyd introduced so many of us to rustic european food with a slurp. A two handed cooking method I still try to adopt;-)
sweetbay - thank you for your compliment, I have a bit of a worry that this diary may sound like a third graders 'What I did in my Holidays'! A title that still resonates with tedium. Your comment reassures me to go on.

Carol said...

Your way of travel... descriptions of food prepared on board... and wine... and land..." keeping their heads above water" the grapes "not tested" along with your photos are such an inspiration... no tedium whatsoever... a delight and I cannot wait for the next post. A lovely holiday that you are sharing!

immersion said...

Now this is truly a vacation!