The Basilica of Santa Maria & Church of Santa Fosca – On the Island of Torcello, Italy

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This is what we had travelled across Venice’s Lagoon to see, the spectacular Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta.  We landed on the island and made our way along the canal, strolling in the beautiful warm Italian sunshine, amazing for October, it was like a summers day.  Now bear in mind, that we had only arrived in Venice the evening before, so really hadn’t explored, so I didn’t know about the churches……….first a lot of them charge you to enter, well I’m fine about that, it pays for the up keep of these wonderful building, but in most of them you are not allow to take photos.  If there was one interior that I wanted to photograph, it was this one, I felt lost, I so wanted to shot the amazing wall mosaics and the beautiful Madonna with the baby Jesus, every where I looked I saw a wonderful photo.  There was no chance of even taking a quick one, there was a very stern lady in a kiosk, with eyes that saw all.  So I had to buy a book for eight euros, I might add, a very small book, but at least I would be able to look and remember a building that had been in existence for more than a millennium, the cathedral is the Lagoon’s oldest Byzantine-Romanesque monument.  When we had finished exploring, I went back to the ticket office, as they had large posters of the Basilica’s mosaics, the earliest, dating to the 11th century, is the Madonna rising in the eastern apse above a field of Torcello poppies.  I asked, as I can’t take a photo of the real thing, can I photograph their poster, which they allow me to do.  Please go online and look up the Basilica, there are some lovely interior photos, but none that I could copy.

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I did take quite a few of the exterior which was interesting, as you can see the remains of the baptistery, which faces the front door of the Cathedral.

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This was as close as I could get to the interior with the camera and there were signs up to say you were being watched, I’m not sure that the kiosk man even liked me taking this one.  As we made our way to the Church of Santa Fosca, I told some photos of faded wall paintings, these would have been painted sometime in the 1500’s.

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The second church on the island was Santa Fosca, who was a virgin and martyr from the city of Ravenna, whose remains were bought here, from the oasis of Sabrata in Libya, some time before 1011.  The church standing today dates back to the 12th century.  The church miraculously escaped the demolition ordained for it by the French grovenment in 1811.  It stands to the left of the Cathedral and is attached by a 16th century porch, which is what we walking through, when our guide pointed to a door to the church and said she would met us at the other end of the church.  We entered and I looked for signs to say no photos, there was nothing, so I took some photos, very quickly, without the flash, never use the flash anyway, but there was no-one there, so I thought it was ok.  On the leaving the church, there was a huge sign with loads of things on it including no photos……… well I never try to waste anything, so here they are.  Trouble was, there were no wonderful mosaics, but still an interesting early building.

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It was now time to leave this island that now only a hand full of people live on, which was once was the heart of Venice with all its splendour and power.  Venice’s first cathedral, first houses, first workshops were all located on Torcello and it was from here, that the first trading vessels set sail from.  So very different from today, now a calm and green pleasant place to visit, away from the now bustling city of Venice.  We made our way back to our flat bottom boat and made tracks for the next island, Burano and more exploring.

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Torcello October 2016

4 comments

    1. Thank you and I am so glad Venice is on your bucket list, it really is a beautiful city and the surrounding islands, you will love it when you finally get there 🙂

  1. It’s really hard to get my head around how old some of these places are! So much history has come and gone since they were built. Great pictures. I’m glad you were able to get some at the second church. Maybe they weren’t as concerned about it as the first one. I really like the candelabra with the colored votives. I’d like to see that lit up at night. 🙂

    1. Thank you Pat, Its also hard for me as well, because here in the uk the Cathedral would have been partly demolished by Henry 8th and would now be some ruins to visit, so to see something really old and still more or less as it would have been when built is quite amazing. I think you are right, there were no mosaics, mind you if I had seen the sign, I would not have taken them, so really glad I didn’t see them 🙂

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