In my first visit to Venice I was surprised by a funeral: a boat descending the Grand Canal, with a coffin in its top, surrounded by flowers. An odd show!
Later on I found that it was, really, the only way to make funerals: the cemetery stays in an island, half way from Murano, and boat is the only transport to reach it.
I never saw it again which means that there is not much people living in Venice, or that they are resistant and healthy. I choose this second option.
Cimitero (Isola di San Michele) is a small island in the lagoon of Venice and it consists only of the cemetery of San Michele and its famous Renaissance church (1469).
Even though you might find it a bit odd to wander around a cementery when being on holiday, this island is well worth a visit to soak up the quiet atmosphere. Among the many famous people who are buried here is Igor Stravinsky.
The island is accessible by vaporetto no. 42 or 52 from Fondamente Nove.
I don't know what came into me, but instead of proceeding to Murano island after boarding vaporetto 42, I made a detour to the city's island cemetery. And I didn't regret that decision. I reckon to mingle with the dead on a peaceful island is a much better option than be with glass souvenir salesmen. One thing strikes me about their cemetery: it is very well-organized - very far from what I'm used to cemeteries in the Philippines. Indeed, the dead Venetians can truly rest in peace (pun intended).
Of course, a cemetery is not complete without an adjacent church (or is it the other way around?). The Chiesa di San Michele in Isola is one of the earliest renaissance buildings in Venice. Unfortunately, it was closed for restoration when I visited. But the convent beside it was open. There are tombs and niches around the convent (these are aside from those in the well-organized formal cemetery), and exploring the convent in semi-darkness is akin to being in a horror movie. Well, I survived.
When the Piazza San Marco has more
tourists than pigeons and the No. 1 vaporetto
is wallowing under the weight of its passengers
on the Grand Canal, there's one place in Venice
where the crowds are quiet and unobtrusive:
the Isola di San Michele, a former prison island
less than five minutes away by waterbus.
San Michele is Venice's cemetery, a role it has borne with
dignity since the early 1800s, when Napoleon's occupying
forces told the Venetians to start hauling their dead across
the water instead of burying them all over town.
I liked taking a boat to some of the islands - Murano, Burano and San Michele (the graveyard). There's less tourists and still plenty to see, Burano and Murano are very colourful with very good workshops with the most exquisited laces and glasswork. San Michele instead is where Venetians and famous people having lived there are burried. A little 'bizar', but also a place full of atmosphere and history too.
Beautiful old-cementery in front of Fondamenta Nuove. You can reach it by vaporetto. Some stylistic graves there and a romantic view of Venice.