On land. Sant’Erasmo island
Tour of Sant’Erasmo island
Description of the itinerary
A trip to discover the largest island of the northern lagoon, known as “vegetable garden of the Serenissima”. You will cross fields planted with vegetables, vineyards and orchards –interrupted by farms and ancient fish farms– in a breathtakingly beautiful lagoon scenery; among the territory’s historical and cultural heritage sites, worthy of notice is the Torre Massimiliana.
About 8.5 kilometres
Means of transport
The island can be reached with public water services, by route 13 from Fondamenta Nòve and from Treporti. The itinerary is possible on foot or by bicycle.
Useful numbers and contacts
To rental bicycles you have to contact Lato Azzurro, the only hotel on the island, situated in Via Forti, 13; telephone number +39 041 5230642, web site: www.latoazzurro.it.
To know the current exhibitions and the opening time of the Torre Massimiliana, look up http://www.parcolagunavenezia.it
(1) Sant’Erasmo Capannone boat stop, trip starting point. At the fork you turn right and follow the tarmac road (Via dei Forti) in the direction towards the Torre Massimiliana. You can access Via dei Forti from the green area in front of Lazzaretto Nuovo, nowadays a public park, that used to be the Bridgehead of the island’s military architecture complex.
|The Bridgehead, that has since been demolished, together with the Torre Massimiliana, the Sant’Erasmo Battery, the Ridotto of Sant’Erasmo Vecchio – that were later converted into telemetry towers and that now lie abandoned – and of Sant’Erasmo Nuovo – in the Punta Vela area, nowadays inaccessible – formed a series of defensive works built to cover the whole Sant’Erasmo Lido and also the entrance to the port of Lido, during the years of French and Austrian supremacy. In the area of park, just restored, you can also see the remains of an Austrian railway, used to connect the gunpowder warehouse of Lazzaretto Nuovo to the Torre Massimiliana. Opposite the Capannone water bus stop you can observe the Island of Lazzaretto Nuovo: it can be reached by means of waterbus line number 13 as a request stop; for visiting hours look up www.lazzarettonuovo.com.In 1468, by a decree of the Senate of the Most Serene Republic, a lazaretto was established on the island for the purpose of preventing the infection by contagious diseases, called “Novo”, to distinguish it from the existing one, close to Lido, known as “Vecchio”, where the confirmed cases of plague were interned. The island became the place of “contumacia” (quarantine) for ships arriving from different ports of the Mediterranean that were suspected of carrying the disease. Into the Austro-Hungarian defensive system Lazzaretto Nuovo was converted into a powder magazine, serving the Sant’Erasmo coastal fortifications.Panoramic view on saltmarshes of Canale Tresso at the east coast of Lazzaretto Nuovo.||0 kilometres|
|2nd STAGEAfter following Via dei Forti for 0.5 km, you can turn left (the third road off from the beginning of the street, just before the hotel Lato Azzurro) and 3000 metres further on, along an internal canal, you find the “Azienda Agricola Sapori di Sant’Erasmo” farm (2).||Sapori di Sant’Erasmo is a family owned farm, run by the president of the “Consorzio del Carciofo Violetto”; where you can purchase local products according to the season. Furthermore, it is an Educational Farm: the producers also provide explanations on the different agricultural activities.It is open to the public every day, for info keep up: http://www.carciofosanterasmo.it/.From Via dei Forti you can enjoy a panoramic view of Venice’s Arsenale and of the Island of Le Vignole.||0.7 kilometres|
|3rd STAGEContinuing along Via dei Forti you reach the southernmost point of the island, where the Torre Massimilana (3) stands.||The tower stands opposite the Lido harbour mouth and was built by the Austrians on the remains of a previous Napoleonic fortification. The Sant’Erasmo Fort, is a abnormal fortification that is quite different from the other military structures that form the Detached Forts Maritime Stronghold of the Venetian Lagoon. Archduke Maximilian of Austria sought refuge in this circular fort during an armed revolt in 1848. It remained in use until the Second World War, and after being abandoned for many years it has recently been restored and used for cultural purposes. It is accessible from March to October in conjunction with exhibitions and events.Each year, in May, there is also the Feast of Violet Artichokes.||1.2 kilometres|
|4th STAGEContinuing along Via dei Forti, that turns to the left behind the Tower, you pass through agricultural land, surrounded by cultivated fields. After about 0.8 km from the bend you will find a farm that makes honey (4).||Part of this length of the journey can be done on the lagoon embankment, starting from the “Bacàn” beach (the great opposite shallows, a destination of Venetian bathers).The Farm, that makes honey for more than thirty years, is a house surrounded by the green. Its garden is a little natural anthology, with trees and plants, including exotic ones.Thanks to the 120 hives, it products the artichoke honey, that it is slightly more bitter than the other, and the saltmarsh honey, with a hint of saltiness, an exclusive flavour of lagoon where the bees fly freely.You can buy these types of honey only at Sant’Erasmo. For the information you can phone at +39 041 2444067.You can admire a panoramic view of the Lido harbour mouth and of Treporti.||2 kilometres|
|5th STAGEAfter about 1.5 km, turning to the left (a few tens of metres after the Cà Vignotto Restaurant), you can take an unpaved path that crosses cultivated fields and vineyards, passing alongside vast elongated fishponds (5).||This path can be followed only on foot or by bicycle, it is extremely interesting from a naturalist point of view. It is an excellent point for bird watching (pheasants, blackbirds, starlings, Black-winged Stilts, etc.) The waterways that form the network of fishponds, is a constant feature of the island’s man-made scenery, and it is directly connected to the surrounding lagoon. Nowadays it lies abandoned, but in the past it did not serve for irrigation purposes, but for fish farming. In various points you can rejoin the main road on the other side of the island (Via delle Motte), shortening the route and reaching the centre of the village, where the Chiesa water bus stop is. The path has an extension of about 1.2 km.||3.5 kilometres|
|6th STAGEOn the left you rejoin Via dei Forti that continues all the way to the ex Reduit, that is invisible, being overgrown by vegetation. Turning to the left again you arrive at the Punta Vela boat stop (6) and you find yourself on Via delle Motte, that runs along the entire northern side of the island.||From Punta Vela you can enjoy a very nice panoramic view of the cultivated fields and vineyards, with the islands of San Francesco del Deserto and Burano in background. From the Punta Vela water bus stop the view on the island of San Francesco del Deserto and its saltmarshes is exceptional.San Francesco del Deserto (that can be visited during the set opening times, look up the website http://www.isola-sanfrancescodeldeserto.it), has been inhabited since Roman times, in 1220 Saint Francis of Assisi landed on the island when returning from the Middle East at the end of the Fifth Crusade. The Saint chose the island for founding a place of refuge where people could pray and meditate in peace. After his death, the Venetian nobleman Jacopo Michiel donated the island to the Friars Minor, so that they could found a convent.In the 15th century the island and the convent were abandoned, as the local environment had become inhospitable, later the area was used as a powder magazine by the Austrians until 1858, when the land was donated to the Diocese of Venice, that allowed the Friars to refound the monastery, that is still active.||4.7 kilometres|
|7th STAGEContinue for about 1.3 km along Via delle Motte, going south, until you reach the centre village (7), where most of the houses and services are concentrated, together with the Chiesa water bus stop.||In the centre of the village there is the church of Cristo Re built during the 19th century. It was consecrated on the 27th of October 1929, not long after the parish of Sant’Erasmo was established (1926). It was designed by Brenno Del Giudice and has three naves. The façade slopes down from the centre to the sides following vertical segments marked by lesenes and enlivened in the upper part by curvilinear elements.Inside there is a painting representing the Martyr of Saint Erasmus, by the School of Tintoretto.||5.5 kilometres|
|8th STAGEContinuing along Via delle Motte for about 0.7 km you can observe the vineyards of the “Orto di Venezia” winery. The Wine Cellar can be visited and it is in the vicinity of the Capannone boat stop (8), at a distance of about 1 km.||The winery has refurbished the ancient drainage system that collects rainwater in canals that run in between the rows of vines flowing into the lagoon at low tide, by means of hydraulic locks. The winery can be visited during the Education Farm event organised by Ca’ Codolo: an itinerant event involving the different producers on the island. You must coordinate visits, with a minimum number of visitors.||6.8 kilometres|
|Continuing for another couple of hundred metres you get back to the Capannone boat stop, where you started your trip.||8.5 kilometres|