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San Cristoforo

San Cristoforo

This lovely little church is out on the cemetery island, San Michele in Isola. Technically it’s part of Cannaregio since this island historically has been considered part of that sestiere but you do have to take the vaporetto out to visit it.

Before the fall of the Republic, there were two islands out here – San Michele and San Cristoforo della Pace, and both were monastery islands. Napoleon’s revamping of Venice included banning burials from Venice’s historic center and so after the monasteries were suppressed, the cemetery was moved out here and later, the two islands were merged into one.

There used to be two Renaissance churches here. The church called San Michele in Isola remains but the original San Cristoforo (built by the Lombardi family who also built Santa Maria dei Miracoli) was demolished and then rebuilt in the mid-19th century. So it’s another one of those so-called “modern” churches that’s now about 150 years old. I would love to know what the Lombardi church looked like and if anything from it was moved into the new church.

A view of the island from Fondamenta Nuove:

cemetary island

The church of San Michele in Isola was closed for restoration when I visited in December 2007, but I was happy to find San Cristoforo open. It’s so beautiful inside this small church – the walls are covered with absolutely gorgeous glass mosaics in vivid colors. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting this island and want to go back and spend more time there (I was in a hurry to get to Murano before the church of Santi Maria e Donato closed at noon).

I found the cemetery very moving. There wasn't a single grave that didn’t have flowers, and I saw a number of Venetians on the vaporetto carrying large bouquets. I didn’t make it to the Protestant section of the cemetery since I was in a hurry, but I did walk around the Catholic part. It’s so beautiful and serene with birds singing and all those cypress trees; I loved it.

A map of the cemetery and some other photos are on Venice Explorer.

I took the photo below in December - remarkably green for winter even though it was a winter sky that day.

San Michele in Isola

More Churches:

Churches in Cannaregio
Churches in Castello
Churches in Dorsoduro
Churches in San Marco
Churches in San Polo
Churches in Santa Croce
Churches on the Lagoon Islands

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Comments (7)


Wow! I never would have imagined all those flowers. I remember passing the island on the way to Murano and thinking it looked so forbidding.

I so appreciate this blog entry! I've seen the island on three occasions from the vaporetto to Murano and have never stopped because of lack of time. Now I know I want to go!

I've never seen a more beautiful cemetery! I wouldn’t mind being put to rest there. :-)

Ahhh, that was great to read - yes, I go by it on the way to Torcello. :)

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Annie, these are great photos. The San Cristoforo church is very beautiful. I also viewed the island from the Vaporetto on my way to Burano. I thought about checking it out, but didn't. But now that I read your entry and see your photos, I would like to try to visit the island on my next trip to Venice.

Very interesting to learn the history of how the cemetery came to be on the island (after Napoleon banned them from the historic center trying to revamp Venice).

Amazing that there are flowers layed on each grave. I don't think I've ever seen that anywhere.

Thanks for the very informative and interesting read this morning!

Great post! I have always wondered about the cemetary on that island but have never stopped. Love the photos!!

I have a lot of churches to catch up on on your blog as well as some cool photohunt posts to comment on.


Really interesting, Annie! I've read about the island in Donna Leon's novels, it always sounded so mysterious. Great photos, especially the shot from the Fondamenta Nuove -- that looks like an ornate brick fence?

I'm just going to Venice :) I have pictured all its churches (except some on the Lagoon), also S. Cristoforo inside.
Great blog!

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 15, 2008 2:34 PM.

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