|Torcello's Santa Fosca Church, seen from the garden at Locando Cipriani|
In the 6th century, residents of a small Roman town named Altinum, tired of being raided by the Lombards and Franks, retreated to this little marshy island and rebuilt their city, even using some of the stones salvaged from their sacked home on the mainland.
|Porch of the Church of Saint Fosca|
But poor environmental management took its toll - by the 12th century, the wetlands had become polluted and choked with silt, breeding malaria and sickness. Everyone left and went to the newer city being built on the island of Rivoalto, periodically coming back to Torcello to scavenge building materials. Today all that remains of Torcello's medieval history is the fine Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and the neighboring Church of Santa Fosca.
|Leaving Venice by boat|
|The landing at Torcello|
One peculiarity you notice is that along the way among the weeds and brambles are small houses, shelters for cats.
|Souvernir stands, cat houses and the campanile under scaffolding.|
|Church of Santa Fosca|
Meanwhile, the heat rose and the sweat poured off our bodies - it was so hot it was almost surreal. Alas, even the contrasting vision of paradise was roasting! What we needed was refreshment!
So much for the salvation of our souls. Torcello is also home to a noted inn and restaurant, the Locanda Cipriani. Founded in 1934, it became known after Ernest Hemingway hung out there to write "Across the River and Into the Trees."
Our lunch reservation was at noon. We were seated in the shady garden, and served the signature apertif, a mixture of prosecco and white peach juice called a bellini.
After contemplating hell's river of fire, the idea of cool gazpacho appealed to me, and it was indeed heavenly. Bursting with bright vegetal flavor, garnished with diced cucumber, peppers and herbs, it was virtuously refreshing.
Our table overlooked a broad lawn and garden where a wedding party was taking place. Bees buzzed in the lavender while small children ran across the grass, and the families toasted one another with glasses of prosecco. They took their dinner beneath the shady arbor. [The Man I Love] had a first course of squid-ink gnocchi in a sauce of shellfish. His second was a perfectly grilled branzino, while I had vitello al tonnato, garnished with piquant cornichons and capers.
Way to keep cool on a hot day!