For All Saints and All Souls, probably the island cemetery of San Michele will come to your mind, wrapped in clouds of yellow crysanthemum and candlight in early November.
But there’s another one on another Lagoon island, much larger than San Michele, lying still under a thick roof of rovi (brambles) and sambuco (elderflowers).
Beyond in the mist shrouding the darkish reeds you can make out the soft green marshlands interspersed with tiny islands. And these are very special islands, holding all the ideas and visions Venetians ever created and dreamed of.
During the times of the Republic, more than 300,000 people lived in Venice. Much space was needed, yet during that time, the northern island groups of Torcello, Ammiana, Santa Cristiana and Sant’Ariano became uninhabitable. Around 60,000 people had to leave these islands due to movements of the soil called subsidenza. In addition, the rivers brought debris into the Lagoon and her existance was threatened. Everything was done to prevent Ammiana and Sant’Ariano from sinking but after 100 years of trying every possible remedy, even the Venetian engineers had to give up. The islands disappeared under the waters and some were torn apart. The nuns living on Sant’Ariano moved on to Murano. Sant’Ariano remained in unstable conditions until the 18th century when it partly re-emerged from under the water surface.
While Venice was suffering from sovrafollamento (overpopulation), the Government in the early 18th century had to find a place for the dead and gave up the cemeteries usually located next to the churches in town. They brought their dead, amongst them doges, fishermen, explorers, merchants, noblemen, housewifes, artists – in short, the people who had lived in Venice for more than 1000 years, to their new home, the island of Sant’Ariano.
Below you can watch the calm and unique atmosphere around the island of Sant’Ariano, where the hopes and dreams of Venice live on shrouded in blue-rose-emerald sunset sparkles.