Near the entrance to the the Venetian lagoon, approximately three kilometers northeast of Venice there is a island which played since ancient times a strategic function in the control of the waterways directed inland1.
During the Middle Ages the Island was called Vigna Murada (walled vineyard) and was owned by the monks of San Giorgio Maggiore who erected a church now disappeared. In 1468 by decree of the Senate of the Serenissima a lazaret was established to prevent contagion. It was called "Novo" (new) to distinguish it from the existing one located near the Lido, the Lazzaretto Vecchio, were plague infected cases were admitted since 1403. The island became a quarantine post for ships arriving from various ports of the Mediterranean, suspected of carrying the plague, and also for the convalescence of the sick who survived the plague2.
Many edifices were built to improve the efficiency of the new lazzaretto. The main existing building is the so called Tezon grande (big shed); it was used for the storage and decontamination of the goods during the quarantine. On its walls many writings still exists that evoke the presence of merchants and of guardians of the Magistrate of Health3.
The island of Lazzaretto Novo appears with an indented external perimeter, made up of high embankment along the western coast towards Murano and along the remaining sides of the "barena". A quadrangular surrounding wall, with loopholes and watchtowers, from the early 1800s, delimits the ancient settlement4.
The progressive abandonment of the island's use as a lazaret took place during the 1700's. Afterwards, the island was used for military purposes until 1975 when the Italian Army abandoned it. The Lazzaretto Novo is one of the few islands, among the abandoned islands of the Venetian lagoon, to have benefited from decisive action of preservation and restoration carried out in recent years by the local Soprintendenza per i Beni Ambientali e Architettonici and the Magistrato alle Acque. It has been given in concession to a voluntary association, the Ekos Club, which guarantees adeguate surveillance and access to the public5.
More informations on the Association's official website.
- Photos by Luca Borghi ti.supmacinu|ihgrob.l#| (September 2012), courtesy of the Ekos Club (except for the first one, retrieved from the Association's website).
- Locate the item on this Google Map
- Gerolamo Fazzini (a cura di), Venezia. Isola del Lazzaretto Nuovo, Archeovenezia, Venezia 2004, pp. 191