Perhaps nowhere has as many beautiful sites to see as Venice, so it can be quite a challenge to tear yourself away from the city’s main sestieri. Still, Venice comprises many far flung islands, each with its own character. If you have more than a few days to explore the area, trips to the outlying islands can be most rewarding.
Torcello is a largely uninhabited island, boasting only a few canals from its long-ago era as an urban center, a small luxury hotel, a couple of impressive churches and two first-rate restaurants to lure visitors. Surprisingly, as sparsely populated as it is today, Torcello was once a thriving city, way back in the 12th century and it’s now-larger neighbor Venice was the undeveloped outpost. Those days are long gone, but an afternoon on Torcello can provide a swell few hours of quiet bliss.
Torcello is served by vaporetto from Venice, via either Murano Island or the Lido. The trip will take from 1 to 2 1/2 hours, depending on the route, but provides a wonderfully scenic tour of the Lagoon. Disembark at the island’s small wooden dock. Follow your fellow passengers up the lone sidewalk bordering a pretty little canal into the heart of the island. Pass the first restaurant on your left, but as you make it to the next establishment, the Ostaria Ponte del Diavolo, you definitely want to stop and have a big, delightful (if pricey) lunch. On one of the restaurant’s patios, you’ll enjoy course after course of brilliant, delicious Venetian cuisine amidst a vista of flowers, trees and pastures. Make sure you enjoy a Bellini or Americano cocktail as an aperitif, and try to save room for the stunning, rich deserts.
After lunch, enjoy a much-needed stroll to the island’s beautifully preserved Romanesque Cathedral. And don’t fail to stop in the dark and lovely adjacent chapel, built on a Greek cross plan. There is also a small museum, although you may find a further walk in the open air more compelling.
Ostaria Ponte del Diavolo
tel. 39 041 730 401
fax 39 041 730 240
Closed Thursday, and all evenings except Saturday.