BUON FERRAGOSTO from this special island in the Lagoon where VENETIANS CELEBRATE FERRAGOSTO, a lush paradise overgrown with silver olive trees and emerald cypresses.
And there are vineyards, in which the ancient vines of the Doges are cultivated. In spring, white tamerisk shrubs line its winding canals, leading into secret corners with surprising views of turquoise waters and marshlands overgrown with fragrant herbs and plants like limonium (sea lavender) that flower in summer. Red poppies and wild roses grow on salty meadows which during the past ten years, have become the home of thousands of pink flamingoes.
It’s this island, the first settled in the Lagoon, and on which Byzantine Greek merchants built a large port around the year 300 BC, that Venetians visit every year on 15 AUGUST to celebrate the most important feast in summer, FERRAGOSTO. On 15 August, this forgotten ancient island, once home 20,000 inhabitants, comes to life again, and a mass service is celebrated in the ancient church SANTA MARIA ASSUNTA built in 639 AD.
You can still notice the different culture on the island, by the time you arrive at the first bend of the cobbled pathway leading farther inland. On your left, the ruins of the convent San Tomà dei Bogogni are located, and a little further ahead, what remains of the convent Santa Margherita. Beyond the tamarisk and pine grove on your right, the church San Zuane was built, and in the distance, amidst the vineyards, you can find traces of the church of Sant’Andrea. Beyond the Cathedral, whose tower you can make out in the distance, the church of San Marco was built by a certain Rustego who brought the body of Saint Mark from Alessandria to Venice in 827 AD.
As we mentioned above, the ancient Cathedral dedicated to Virgin Mary (Santa Maria Assunta) was built in the year 639 AD. But in vain will you look for paintings because the world of mosaics is coming to life here. And Virgin Mary is not depicted in the Catholic way: She holds Jesus in her arms in the GREEK way, that is, in her left arm, while her right hand is indicating Jesus as redeemer and last resort.That’s why, if you really wish to understand Venetian origins and culture, it’s this hidden dream place in the Lagoon you need to turn to.
Can you guess the name of this island?