When I read in my guidebook that Daphne du Maurier had been inspired to write Don’t Look Now on a trip to Torcello, I was intrigued and keen to find out more about the place that had inspired the sinister short story.

Settled in the 5th century, the island of Torcello was for centuries the most prosperous island in the Venetian lagoon, with some experts suggesting as many as 20,000 people once called the island home.

But by the 14th century, the island’s fortunes had begun to dwindle as its residents moved to Venice, Murano and Burano, and by the the turn of the 19th century, it was home to just 300 people. Today, only a handful of people still live there.

To get to the island, you have to hop on the number 9 waterbus from Burano, a short, five-minute boat ride away.

Devil's Bridge, Torcello

After arriving on Torcello, we set off along the main canal (above), in the direction of the small square that’s home to the island’s cathedral, church and museum.

Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta, Torcello

The Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta dates back to 639, making it the oldest church in the Venetian lagoon.

From the outside, it looks like a fairly typical, old red-brick church (above).

But inside it’s another story and I was stunned to find the remnants of Byzantine mosaics adorning some of the walls and ceilings, and a very pretty, uneven floor of pink, green, grey and white marble mosaic tiles.

The 12th and 13th century gold mosaics feature scenes from Doomsday (think angels, beasts and devils) and are similar in style to those in the Basilica di San Marco in Venice.

But unlike San Marco, the unfurnished Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta is in a sad state of repair (photos are not allowed inside).

Most of the walls are now just bare brick, although I suspect they, too, were once covered in similar eye-catching gold mosaics.

It was sad to see the cathedral in such a sorry state because it must have been a spectacular sight once upon a time.

Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta and the Campanile

From the basilica, we made our way to the adjoining Campanile (above), where we were delighted to find that most of the route to the top consisted of ramps rather than steps.

The view from the Campanile at Torcello

The ramps made it a quick and easy journey to the top of the bell tower, where we enjoyed superb views over the island (above) and the surrounding lagoon.

Chiesa di Santa Fosca

After a brief stop to look around the Chiesa di Santa Fosca (above), a small, round, plain church next to the basilica, we crossed the square to visit the island’s museum.

Museo di Torcello

The Museo Provinciale di Torcello (above) is a small, two-storey museum showcasing archaeological relics found on the island, along with a few treasures from the cathedral.

It was okay, but it isn’t the most interesting museum in the world, so we didn’t spend long inside.

Venetian lagoon, Torcello

By now, we’d seen pretty much everything there was to see on Torcello, so we made our way back along the canal to the quayside to catch the waterbus back to Burano.

I enjoyed our visit to Torcello. It may not be top of everyone’s list of places to visit when they’re in Venice and there may not be a huge amount to see, but it’s a quiet, peaceful (if slightly eerie and melancholy) island and I was glad we’d made the effort to go.

18 thoughts on “Torcello

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  1. I know that one of the top Venice day trips for tourists is a visit to one or more of the islands in the Venetian lagoon. But unfortunately, due to a time shortage, I didn’t get to visit any of the nearby islands on my last trip to Venice. Torcello Island looks fairly quiet and seems like a good place to get away from the crowds and enjoy a peaceful stroll or lunch, or even spend the night in the legendary Locanda Cipriani. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx


    1. It was nice to spend a day visiting a couple of the islands in the lagoon. Although there isn’t much to Torcello, I really enjoyed our visit there. It was quiet and peaceful, and free from crowds. Have a lovely day, too 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a lovely, quiet island. We only spent two days in Venice, but could also have stayed longer. There are so many interesting places, not only in Venice itself but also in the surrounding areas to visit that it felt as though we only scratched the surface of what there was to see.

      Liked by 1 person

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