The Island of Santa Cristina
Now a private island and luxury retreat, the island of Santa Cristina was once the largest island of the “Ammiana” archipelago in the northern lagoon; much of which has disappeared, due to environmental degradation, depopulation and submersion.
The Island of Santa Cristina – History
Originally, this island used to be known as “Orti di Ammiana”, (the orchard garden of Ammiana). It is the largest remaining island of the Ammiana group, which suffered environmental degradation, depopulation and ultimately submersion. Only a few small islands of this archipelago, have survived.
It once contained the monasteries of San Marco of Santa Cristina (founded 1185, abandoned 1432), Santi Apostoli Filippo e Giacomo (founded 1185, abandoned 1387) and Sant’ Angelo (founded 1195, abandoned 1438). The establishment of monastic communities was perhaps an attempt to maintain the population of these islands; as many families moved to Venice, which offered better economic opportunities.
Environmental degradation had become so bad, that by the mid-15th century all the buildings were abandoned. This was despite the monasteries receiving significant funding for major repairs in the 1430’s and attempts to keep the population stable.
Left: The tiny ancient chapel in beautiful surroundings.
The nuns of San Marco – Santa Cristina, moved to the island of Burano in 1340; but they were ordered to go back.
In 1432 they were allowed to move to the island of Torcello; taking the body of Santa Cristina with them. Despite Venice’s attempt to protect the island; it was eventually partially swallowed by the lagoon’s water.
In a 1770 map, the islands outline was already very similar to that of recent times and there was a marsh in place of a former fishing farm.
Santa Cristina was bought by Gernot Langes-Swarovski in 1982. His stepson René Deutsch, and his wife Sandra have reportedly spent half a million euros, regenerating the island and developing a self-sufficient, environmentally-conscious and sustainable business enterprise.
San Cristina now as a 30-hectare orchard, with apricot and plum trees and vineyard. From the latter, 10,000 bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot wine are produced, for private use and guests. Some select wines are sold to the top local restaurants.
There is a vegetable garden which is being expanded, with the aim of growing fresh produce in all seasons. Also, a beehive for saltmarsh honey production.
Drinking water is drawn from 240 m deep wells, using the latest technology.
The island’s fish farm has been redeveloped, in collaboration with the Ca’ Foscari University in Venice. The University has found some unique species of crustaceans that have survived on the island and not anywhere else in the lagoon.
It also features a luxury eco-retreat guesthouse with nine bedrooms, a yoga studio, a patio, a swimming pool and three gazebos.
Note on environmental degradation
The northern part of the Lagoon of Venice, underwent a process of environmental degradation; which led to the abandonment of the islands of Ammiana, those of the close-by settlement of Costanziaco and the island of Torcello.
In late 12th century there was marine regression, which modified the geographical configuration of this part of the lagoon.
The mouth of the River Sile was to the northeast of Ammiana and to the north of the island group of Costanziaco. Normally, the river flows through the lagoon, until it reaches the sea at Treporti; forming deeper channels; between and around the island groups.
In the 13th century the River Sile silted up.
The silting up caused by the Sile, combined with a lack of inflow of sea currents; turned the northern part of the lagoon into a marshy area, with freshwater reedbeds and brackish water saltmarshes. This led to problems with malaria.
This silting-up eventually caused a rise in water levels and through this, flooding in the fields on the islands; which led to a loss in their use for cultivation, except for some rented out plots which belonged to the monasteries. Higher water levels and floods, also eroded the islands’ wooden embankments and also damaged the buildings, which were also of wood construction.
TODAY AT ISOLA SANTA CRISTINA
A private island of unsurpassed beauty, Isola Santa Cristina is a natural haven that embodies the tranquillity and sophistication of the Venetian lagoon. The property is home to families of wild peacocks and a vast range of wildlife; its lovingly tended grounds cradling organic gardens and orchards, eco-friendly fish farms and an ancient chapel.
THE VILLA – the ultimate eco-retreat.
This large private island with a luxury 9-room villa, only a 20-minute boat ride from Venice; is available for a limited number of bookings per year.
Exclusive and connected, Isola Santa Cristina offers the luxury of unadulterated space and urban refinement. Its fully bespoke offerings range from complete privacy and autonomy, to all-inclusive five-star superior service.
It offers luxurious accommodation and stylish décor that complement the naturally lush environment of Isola Santa Cristina.
This grand estate features an open floor plan with a spacious, light-filled living room, Venetian-style chef’s kitchen, an expansive dining room that accommodates up to fifteen guests, two master bedrooms, five double, and two single bedrooms with private baths.
Outside, a spacious terrace is perfect for entertaining, with a large fireplace to set the mood or cook in the open air. A second patio provides a quiet, secluded nook with natural teak dining set, while a typical Venetian rooftop “altana”; offers dramatic views of the lagoon. The villa’s large swimming pool, comes complete with stunning teak deck area, gazebo and lounge chairs.
Holidays Weddings Events
Draped in a personalised environment, Isola Santa Cristina is every guest’s paradise. Whether for an inconspicuous weekend among family and friends, an exquisite wedding celebration, or a well-heeled occasion; the property is an elegant backdrop for unforgettable moments. Why would anyone want to leave Isola Santa Cristina?
Discover some of the one hundred and eighteen Venetian islands and five hundred and fifty square kilometres of wild lagoon, beyond the City of Venice. Nearest to Isola Santa Cristina is the famed Burano island with its colourful buildings and hand-made lace, Mazzorbo with the Venissa vineyards and lauded restaurant and Torcello with its Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta, boasting stunning Byzantine mosaics.
Bespoke visits can be arranged on request, in collaboration with a network of local experts.
Yoga retreats fit into the organic philosophy of Isola Santa Cristina, which emphasises an inner balance of the body, mind and spirit. Prominence is given to Satyananda and Sivanada yoga philosophies, but Ashtanga and Iyengar yoga training can also be arranged. The island has two certified instructors on-site, and guest instructors can book the island for private retreats. Isola Santa Cristina hosts groups on this private island and provides a fully equipped yoga room. Vegetarian or bespoke meals available on request.
Art and the Island
A natural nirvana and island paradise that lends itself to the pursuit of the contemplative journey; Isola Santa Cristina comes alongside artists, writers, musicians, who through their work explore the beauty of the Venetian lagoon and the cultural heritage of Venice.
Isola Santa Cristina is located in the north of the Venetian lagoon, near Burano and Torcello, twenty minutes from the city of Venice.
The closest airport is Marco Polo Airport on the Italian mainland. A private boat transfer to Isola Santa Cristina can be arranged on your arrival. The journey takes approximately thirty-five minutes.
It is possible to arrive via helicopter directly at Isola Santa Cristina, which boasts its own landing space and is only a few hours flight from most European cities.
If arriving in Venice by car, it is preferable to leave your vehicle in the secure parking facilities at Marco Polo Airport.
For Pricing & Reservations
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Please see my other posts in the series: Islands of the Lagoon