The island of Le Vignole
A sparsely populated island just 1km northeast of Venice; the islands of Le Vignole is mostly agricultural in nature; but also a military site.
It is a world away in character from the main city, yet close-by and rarely visited by tourists. It lies between the islands of La Certosa, immediately to the west and Sant’ Erasmo, just to the south.
However, it’s on a public ferry route, so it’s easy to make the short trip to the island; perhaps en-route to the larger neighbouring agricultural island of Sant’Erasmo.
Vignole, is actually made up of two distinct islands, which are connected by bridge over the dividing canal. The eastern part of the island is a military zone, housing barracks of the Lagunari regiment. A bridge connects this sector to the close-by Sant’Andrea Island, home to the historic fort; that guarded the main entrance to the lagoon from the Adriatic Sea.
The Line 13 vaporetto from Fondamenta Nuove on the norther Venice coast, stops at Le Vignole and then on to Sant’Erasmo. It runs approximately every hour, although occasional services may stop by request only at Le Vignole (information is displayed on current timetables).
Formerly called Biniola, and also “Isola delle sette vigne” (Island of the seven vineyards). It is said, that it once supplied the Doge’s wine.
Historically, the island was used by the Romans and then the Venetians as a vacation resort. At the time, it directly faced the Adriatic Sea, as the Punta Sabbioni had yet to be formed. No doubt, the cooling sea-breezes were most welcome.
In the 7th century, two tribunes of Torcello decided to build a small church dedicated to St. John the Baptist and Sainte-Justine. From this construction, there remains a chapel dedicated to Sainte-Orosie (Sant’Eurosia) and a small bell tower.
Also important are the military presences: in addition to a long building once used as a powder store, Le Vignole is connected by bridge to the Island of Sant’Andrea. Here stands the historic fort of San Andrea, built for defensive purposes in the 1500’s; to a design by Michele Sanmicheli. It was one of Venice’s main defensive fortresses.
The islands in this part of the lagoon had considerable strategic importance, as they face Venice’s principal entrance from the Adriatic Sea. In fact, before the extension of the northern Lido di Cavallino; the sea came right up to their shores.
Le Vignole seems rather forgotten and sleepy, although it is farmed and lived-in, rather than abandoned. The island is picturesque – a smaller and more unkempt version of Sant’Erasmo, and wildly different to its other neighbour, Venice.
Some of the land is carefully farmed; in other parts canals wind through marshy undergrowth.
Le Vignole is not an easy island to explore; the north-western part is primarily the area you can visit. The rest is private agriculture or military property.
The residents live in isolated farmstead-type buildings and are not keen on outsiders wandering through their land; fences, gates, barking dogs and ‘private property’ signs deter visitors from wandering the paths; which locals obviously use as thoroughfares.
From the ferry stop, on the north-eastern part of the island you can only walk a matter of yards on open ‘public’ path. This route leads away from the vaporetto stop along a wide canal which divides the island. After a short distance, you arrive at the island’s church; a little white chapel with small bell-tower, that is kept closed. This is all that remains of the 7th century church, dedicated to St. Erosia.
Over the bridge from the chapel, a signposted gateway leads to the Trattoria alle Vignole, a simple restaurant with outdoors space on the shore of the lagoon, facing Venice.
Left: Chapel with bell-tower, dedicated to St. Erosia.
There are two restaurants on the island. (Please check opening details, especially in view of covid-19 restrictions).
“Trattoria Alle Vignole”
Vignole Island 12, 30141 Venice
Tel.: +39 041 5289707 Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hours: From Tuesday to Sunday from 10.00 to 22.00. Closed on Mondays and in winter. Open mid-April
“Agriturismo da Zangrando”
Isola Delle Vignole 26
Telephone and Fax: 041-5284020
Please see my other posts in the series: Islands of the Lagoon