In Venice, Torcello’s archaeological excavations bring attention to the cultural and artistic history of a lesser-known aspect of the lagoon city. The mystical dimension of Torcello is certainly different from Murano and Burano’s joyful one. Peace, Few houses and cultivated fields dominated by the Church, so sober and so solemn.

Torcello’s frescoes emerged during a restoration intended to support the Church of Santa Maria Assunta’s wall structures. As the Ca’Foscari University points out, we should now integrate the old definition of “Veneto-Byzantine Church” with “Carolingian.” Let’s find out why …

Is there an underground Venice?

When one thinks of an archaeological excavation, one imagines oneself to go below the floor level. Despite being a lagoon in Venice, there is no shortage of underground jewels, unknown to most. These are often medieval crypts, whose architecture recalls that of the Basilica of San Marco. Their function was to preserve the relics of the Saints.

In the case of the church of the Assumption, we speak of “aerial excavation,” a peculiarity of the discovery. This time, the medieval frescoes are located 10 meters high and gain the first place among Venice’s oldest paintings.

The “new” medieval frescoes

Emptying the counter-vault of the chapel of the SS. Sacramento, which houses a marvelous 11th-century mosaic, unexpected brush strokes have appeared, dating back to the 9th century. Studies carried out by the Ca’Foscari University confirm the dating of the building. Archaeologists found surprising fragments; in fact, the frescoes have deteriorated for numerous reasons. This does not prevent the reconstruction of the iconographies, sometimes confirmed by inscriptions. They imagined vivid colors that uniformly covered all surfaces. Festoons framed the panels with religious stories, cornucopias, animals, and pomegranates.

In addition to the frescoes, a 9th-century ciborium and the remains of a 7th-century apse have also emerged. In the 11th century, Bishop Orseolo called mosaicists from Byzantium to make the Serenissima “shine” and deliver Torcello to us as we have admired it to this day.

The tour of the islands of Venice stops in Murano. The experience is really enriching and memorable like the other you can have in this wonderful city, showing us the Venetians’ serene and joyful soul.