In front of the Torcello cathedral are the ruins of the 7th century baptistry – a round and romantic hole-in-the-ground that in December 2008 was filled with water. Not sure what's so fascinating and attractive about these ruins but I stood and looked at this for a long time.
In the early days of Christianity, it was common to build a separate baptistry so that believers could be purified before entering the church. Two of the most famous free-standing baptistries in Italy are the one in Florence across from the Duomo and the one in Pisa with its amazing acoustics. At some point, churches began including the baptistry as a chapel or separate room that's inside the church itself.
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The more I blog about Torcello, the more I think of to say (and I’ve got photos galore) so this may keep going for a while. But I’m going to jump ahead to the best part – what happened in the cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta (my best church visit ever).
The Torcello cathedral celebrated "il millennio” (its thousandth anniversary) last year – it’s the oldest monumental building in the lagoon and is such a gorgeous place with everything I love about Venetian sacred architecture….lots of old glowing marble, a magical Madonna mosaic on the golden apse, multi-coloured mosaic floors, an ancient wooden ceiling, fresco fragments here and there, and Byzantine carvings with peacocks and flowers and twining grape vines.
So I was already blissed out just strolling around the cathedral when I looked over and saw two of the Torcello cats walk in the church, one a lovely long-haired fluffy cat and the other a cute short-haired tabby. They went over and climbed up onto the pews (it was a very cold day and I figure they wanted to get off those cold marble floors).
Continue reading "A Magical Encounter" »
First, I'd like to say Bon Voyage and safe travels to Kathy (Trekcapri) who leaves for Scotland tomorrow! Have a great time, and I can't wait to read all about it (and see your photos).
Back to my ramblings about my day at Torcello (at the pace I'm going, it's going to take me a month to blog about that one day!).
There are a bunch of these old well-heads on Torcello, and several of them have cool carvings on them. This cube-shaped one with a Greek cross on each side is probably the oldest vera da pozzo in the lagoon (eighth century or so).
Many of the well-heads in Venice have carvings of water jugs on them, and several on Torcello did too~
I like the tree on this one~
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“Torcello is a reclaimed wilderness…Nature’s eternal youth smiles in the midst of these ruins. The air was balmy and only the sound of the cicadas disturbed the religious hush of the morning.” ~ George Sand
Santa Maria Assunta, the cathedral of Torcello, was founded in 639, rebuilt in 864 and again in 1008. What we see today is largely 11th century with a few mosaics and fragments from the earlier churches. In 1929, archeologists unearthed the altar from the 7th century church and returned it to the chancel during a restoration that removed some later Baroque additions (thank goodness they took that stuff away!).
I took only four photos inside this cathedral (and they are in my Torcello church cats post), but I did find some scanned photos to share. Since better writers than me have heaped praise on this amazing church, I’m going to let them help describe it.
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There's so much cool stuff to see and photograph on Torcello. The stone chair above is called The Throne of Attilla because of a legend that it belonged to Attilla the Hun, whose rampage through the mainland drove the early citizens of Torcello into the lagoon. More than likely, it was a magistrate's chair but the name has stuck. It's supposed to be good luck to sit in it and I even overheard one tourist tell her friend that if you sit in it, you'll be married within a year. I didn't test it out. :)
A beautiful fragment on the side of Santa Fosca~
Outside the museum, there's a long wall with all kinds of reliefs, stone fragments, saints and such. And this wild guy, whoever he is~
Continue reading "The Stones of Torcello" »