The Isle of the Dead
Since the 1800s, Venetians haven’t been allowed to bury their dead in Venice.
Instead, they come out to Isola di San Michele — two islands joined together to form a floating cemetery.
The first thing you see as you arrive
Is one of Venice’s first Renaissance churches.
(I took the photo through the ferry window.)
You can find graceful courtyards
And hidden-away sunny spots
Full of graves.
The rich families could afford
To honour their sleeping beauties in marble.
Even the more humble resting places
Are taken care of with love.
There are crosses as far as the eye can see —
A sobering reminder of what awaits us all.
The cemetery island is the burial place of many famous people,
Including Ezra Pound, Doppler, Stravinsky and Diaghilev.
Our visit there was both life-affirming and moving.
For those of you who want to know what happens when the cemetery gets ‘full’: the bodies are allowed to lie here for about 12 years, and then they are taken back to Venice and kept in an ossarium to make room for more burials.
For more histories, please visit: Our World.