Behind the Torcello cathedral is the small Oratory of San Marco Evangelista, built on the site where St. Mark rested on his way to Venice (or more accurately, where the guys who stole his body rested?). Legend has it that the merchants who rescued/stole the saint from his grave in Egypt were both Torcello citizens; perhaps they stopped by their home on their way to deliver the prized body to the Doge.
In December 2008, the oratory was behind a construction fence so I couldn’t get close enough to really check it out. It’s a cute little place though, and there are some intriguing ruins around it that I couldn’t get close to either.
John Ruskin said that the view from the 12th century campanile (bell tower) is “one of the most notable scenes in this wide world of ours.” You can see the wide expanse of the lagoon and the bell towers of the Venice skyline in the distance.
In December 2008, the Torcello campanile was closed for restoration so I wasn’t able to see the "notable scene." I was able to climb it in October 2003 and would love to go up there again now that I know more about what I’m seeing. It’s on my list for my next trip, for sure, whenever that is. It feels so weird to not be going to Venice this December!
It’s a tower that you actually climb (no elevator) but it’s not that hard since you climb on circling ramps rather than stairs. And the views are pretty awesome (I wish I had some digital photos!). It was the first time I really understood what the ancient Venetians had to work with, in terms of the landscape of the lagoon, because you can see undeveloped mudflats surrounded by little rivers of water that later became the famous canals.
A view of the tower without scaffolding~
I think I've got two more Torcello posts to do and then I'll go back to the shrines and churches of Venice itself. Thanks so much for all the comments!