One of the many hidden gems of Venice is the biggest island of the lagoon, beyond Venice itself. It’s Sant’Erasmo, an expanse of over 3 sq km north-east of Venice that can be reached pretty easily from the Fondamente Nove by means of the ACTV vaporetto (water ferry) on line 13. (See some of our Tips for Taking the Vaporetto in Venice here, or you can always get in person help from a Prontopia Local with how to get around Venice, and get to the outer islands easily).
Sant’Erasmo island will be a completely unique experience, where you will not find anything similar to Venice or the smaller islands of Murano, Burano or Lido. Home to about 700 people, Sant’Erasmo is almost completely devoted to farming. Traditionally called l’orto di Venezia (Venice’s vegetable garden), it is full of the fields where fruit and vegetables are produced for Venice and it’s the homeland of some specialities like the castraure, artichokes picked before their time. Since a few years ago, wine has been reintroduced and a fine brand called “Orto” can be bought, if you’re lucky enough to find one of the few bottles produced. It also boasts one of the nicest local festivals on the first Sunday of October: the sagra del mosto. Although the name refers to the wort or must, the sagra celebrates a sort of torbolino, a variety of wine from white grapes, not totally fermented, cloudy, slightly sparkling and sweetish.
Apart from the food and drinks, what still amazes me about Sant’Erasmo is its quietness and beauty. I usually get off at the first stop, Capannone, and walk the whole perimeter of the island. If you decide for the anticlockwise walk, you will first appreciate the Torre Massimiliana, a fortress dating back to the 19th century, and the beach. Indeed, Sant’Erasmo boasts an actual beach as it used to be one of the breakwater islands of the lagoon, like the Lido and Pellestrina, before the peninsula of Punta Sabbioni formed. It’s pleasant to go swimming or sunbathe there. If you decide to keep on walking, like I prefer, you will stroll along the rocks, once the beach ends. The landscape is made up of fields on your left and water on your right. You could proceed until the end of the island and turn left up to Punta Vela, where you can take the boat back to Venice or further on to Treporti. Otherwise, you could reach the tiny village where most of the inhabitants live. The bell tower of the church is a useful landmark to get there. There you can either take the boat to Venice or walk along the road to Capannone. In the end you’ll have walked about 10 km for the whole rim or 6 km if you stop at the village. In any case, watch your steps because Sant’Erasmo unexpectedly has cars, mopeds and many charming Ape.
Arriving to Venice can be hectic and stressful. For a unique Local experience that will give you peace of mind upon arrival, try Prontopia — a convenient service for travelers that allows you to request a Local for assistance finding your destination easily from anywhere in the city with help with your luggage or information about your stay as needed, like how to get to Sant’Erasmo Island… We hope to welcome you here soon!
Thank you to our guest author, Prontopia Local Giacomo, who loves sharing his passion for Venice and the Veneto with visitors to the region!
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Photo credit: by Didier Descouens