Better known as Island of the dead, this island is one large cemetary. Located between Murano and Venice, most of the city boats that go to and from Murano stop at San Michele.
The Island is about the most peaceful, if not erie spot in the Venetian Lagoon.
The Church on the island was the first renaissance building in Venice. Originally a monastery, the monastery was closed as the Island was dedicated for burial of Venetians dead. This was ordered by Napoleon, probably a good idea as burial of bodies in the vicinity of Venice’s Churches was less than hygienic. With very shallow graves, and frequent flooding, well you get the picture. Many visitors had complained about the stench from these cemeteries.
On the way to Murano you will see San Michele - the cemetry island of Venice. Now this is a really peaceful place to wander and worthy of a short visit - after all each time we were going to or from Murano the boat called here so it was about time for visit. If you are dead transport is free, if you are a local visiting a grave then transport is free - otherwise you need a ticket for the number 41 or 52 vaporetta calling here via Murano and Fondamenta Nuove.
I am always on the lookout for lighthouses, although I don't always recognize them right away. But there was no doubt that this was one. It was built in 1912. The lighthouse is painted white; near the top there are two black horizontal bars facing the range line. The lighthouse has a distinct lean in the seaward direction which I may have edited out with my software because I hate to have a water horizon that isn't level.
It is an Active light which is 121 ft above sea level. The white light has a pattern, 4 seconds on, 2 seconds off. It can be described as a round cylindrical stone tower with lantern and double gallery. Located 3.2 km (2 mi) west northwest of the front light, on the southeast side of the Isola di Murano, near the foot of the Calle Giuseppe Briatio
The cemetry island is quite large - in 1837 San Michele and its neighbour San Cristoforo della Pace were formed into one - now a large rectangular unit enclosed by the brick walls. The dead were formerly buried in the churches' courtyards buto due to hygiene and space reasons in the 14th century San Michele and the islands nearby were assigned to be cemeteries. Even with this extra space unless you are famous - like Stravinsky or Diaghilev who retain graves here, then bones are dug up after 10 years and placed in an urn to make room for newcomers! A word of warning if you go looking for the famous graves - this area was laive for mosquitos so spray plenty of repellent on first...or suffer the consequences. The section where the famous graves are located are well signposted, butonce you get to that area then the signs disappear....
Entry to the cemetry is via the gothic portal on the right hand side of the church - look up first though to see a nice relief of St Micael fighting with a dragon. The colonnaded monks cloister (see other pics) is a very serene place - they do ask for visitors to be dressed respectfully. I was glad I had a scarf to cover my shoulders, especilly as a funeral corrtege soon arrived - and I'm sure that must happen regularly evey day.
San Michele is mainly a catholic cemetry but there are also two mini-graveyards for other Christian sects: the Greci or Greek Orthodox cemetery, where Igor Stravisky and Sergei Diaghilev are buried; and the Protestant graveyard, whose most famous resident is Ezra Pound. (Jews have their own cemetery on the Lido, Venice's resort island.) In between the graveyards are the walled off sections with row upon row of metal boxes - where the urn are stored - and also a small chapel. Worth a quick look in here to see the lovely frescoes and mosaics.
the cemetry is extensively laid out and if you wish to locate a particular person ther then this website is jolly useful!
San Michele is home to one of Venice 's first Renaissance buildings the church of San Michele built in 1469 by Codussi. It is built of Istrian stone whilst the bell tower is brick and is typical venetian gothic. The Emilioni chapel on the left has a huge white dome built at he beginning of the 16th century.
All around Murano ther are tributes to the galss blowing industry - there is no escaping from it!
Some you have to keep an eye open for - for example we only noticed this glass blowing bas relief on our last visit. Its on the end of the fondamente where the glass museum is - the corner to the one with the Museo boat stop.
There is also the little island where the famous glass ornaments and costume jewelry are made. That's in Murano. However, it's not as lesser known than Burano because of it's industry. Most hotels in Venice will have half day trips or transportation to some of Murano's glass factories. It's a little commercial but the jewelry is beautiful!
On the same corner near the bas relief of the galss blowing is this glass Madonna and hild - something else that had previously escaped my eyes.