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Burano e Torcello

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Burano




The island was probably settled by the Romans, and in the 6th century was occupied by people from Altino, who named it for one of the gates of their former city. Two stories are attributed to how the city obtained its name. One is that it was initially founded by the Buriana family, and another is that the first settlers of Burano came from the small island of Buranello, five miles to the south.

Although the island soon became a thriving settlement, it was administered from Torcello and had none of the privileges of that island or of Murano. It rose in importance only in the 16th century, when women on the island began making lace with needles. The lace was soon exported across Europe, but decline began in the 18th century and the industry did not revive until 1872, when a school of lacemaking was opened. Lacemaking on the island boomed again, but few now make lace in the traditional manner as it is extremely time-consuming and therefore expensive.


Culture and main sights
Burano is also known for its small, brightly-painted houses, popular with artists. The designer Philippe Starck owns three houses. Other attractions include the Church of San Martino, with a campanile, the Oratorio di Santa Barbara and the Museum and School of Lacemaking. The colours of the houses follow a specific system originating from the golden age of its development; if someone wishes to paint their home, one must send a request to the government, who will respond by making notice of the certain colours permitted for that lot. This practice has resulted in the myriad of warm, pastelly colours that characterises the island today.


 

Torcello
 
The Venetian Lagoon - Torcello is in the top right corner, part of what is drawn as a continuous peninsula coming out from the mainland.
Last Judgement. 12th-century Byzantine mosaic from Torcello Cathedral.
Ponte del Diavolo, circa 2002.Torcello is a quiet and sparsely populated island at the northern end of the Venetian Lagoon. It is considered the oldest continuously populated region of Venice, and once held the largest population of the Republic of Venice.


History
After the downfall of the Roman Empire, Torcello was one of the first lagoon islands to be successively populated by those Veneti who fled the terra firma (mainland) to take shelter from the recurring barbarian invasions, especially after Attila the Hun had destroyed the city of Altinum and all of the surrounding settlements in 452. Although the hard-fought Veneto region formally belonged to the Byzantine Exarchate of Ravenna since the end of the Gothic War, it remained unsafe on account of frequent Germanic invasions and wars: During the following 200 years the Langobards and the Franks fuelled a permanent influx of sophisticated urban refugees to the island’s relative safety, including the Bishop of Altino himself. In 638 Torcello became the bishop’s official see for more than a thousand years and the people of Altinum brought with them the relics of Saint Heliodorus, now the patron saint of the island.

Torcello benefited from and maintaining close cultural and trading ties with Constantinople, after the fall of the western Roman Empire, but as a rather distant outpost of the Byzantine Empire it could establish de facto autonomy from the eastern capital.

Torcello rapidly grew in importance as a political and trading centre: In the 10th century it had a population of at least 10,000 people and was much more powerful than Venice. Thanks to the lagoon’s salt marshes, the salines became Torcello’s economic backbone and its harbour developed quickly into an important re-export market in the profitable east-west-trade, which was largely controlled by Byzantium during that period. Fortunately for the island of rivus altus (see Rialto), the lagoon around the island of Torcello gradually became a swamp from the 12th century onwards and Torcello’s heyday came to an end: Navigation in the laguna morta (dead lagoon) was impossible before long and the growing swamps seriously aggravated the malaria situation, so that the population abandoned the worthless island bit by bit and left for Murano, Burano or Venice. It now has a population of around 20 people.










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