Back in the fifth century when folks began to flee the mainland to get away from invading Huns, Torcello was the first island they settled. For the next two hundred years the Ostrogoths Atilla had stirred up, kept pillaging the mainland, driving more and more natives to this refuge. By 568 the Bishop of Altino moved his see here and would stay here for a thousand years.
Torcello became a trading center, much more powerful than Venice, in the 10th century. At Torcello’s height, it’s population was 20,000. However her days were numbered. By the 12th century the lagoon around her had filled with silt, becoming swamp. She became useless as a harbor and the marsh became a breeding ground for malaria. People fled to Venice, Murano, Burano and other islands in the lagoon. They would return to salvage building material from the growing ghost town. Only four medieval buildings were left untouched.
|Swamps around Torcello|
|Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta|
|Church of Santa Fosca|
The natives like to point out a couple of things the scavengers left. There is a stone chair they call Attila’s Throne. I happen to know Attila never even visited Torcello. It most likely was carved for the Bishop.
|Ponte del Diavolo|
|View of Torcello from the Bell Tower|