One of the many beautiful islands in the Venetian lagoon is Certosa. It is located on a 5 minutes vaporetto ride to the east side of Venice, between San Pietro and Sant’Elena. Certosa is very green and ideal to escape the crowds of Venice. The island was abandoned for a very long time, and hence unknown to most visitors. Thanks to the ongoing major redevelopment, you will certainly enjoy this island if you like water sports, nature or silence. You get the panoramic views on Venice and Lido on top of it.
Why should you visit Certosa?
Certosa is the perfect place to relax, but it is unknown to the majority of tourists visiting Venice. I also have to plead guilty here, as I only discovered it quite recently. The majority of its 22 ha, which is similar to Burano, is nature. It has a marina, with a shipyard to repair old and new vessels and a sailing school. There is only one hotel with a restaurant and bar, and there are no shops or other commercial activities.
The huge park is perfect for a long walk or for running and has recently been renovated. Be aware that it’s not a meticulously designed garden as you might expect from the name ‘park’. It’s rather a combination of a forest, grass areas and some bunkers. The large grass fields are perfect to play soccer or any other game for which you need a lot of space. The plant and animal life is very diverse. You will even find palm trees. There is also a small beach, even though it was a bit dirty when I visited it and not something where I would go to sunbath. There were however several people wading in the water of the lagoon looking for ‘vongole’. If you would like to visit the largest park of Venice, it is located on one of the other islands, i.e. San Servolo. You can find more information in my post ‘San Servolo: A green island with a medical history‘.
The marina has a capacity of 300 moorings up to 60 meter in length and is equipped with modern facilities. The sheds of the marina are also used for temporary events. We discovered the island thanks to the Horizontal Metropolis exhibition as part of the 2016 Architecture Biennale. We also found steel domes of the ‘Journey into Fragility’ art installation near the marina.
The Vento di Venezia team regularly organizes events, BBQ’s and other festivities, so this could be an additional incentive to visit the island. As an example, earlier this month the island hosted the first edition of the Festival for the Earth, which included amongst other things an artist residence program. When you plan to visit Certosa, make sure to check the Facebook page of Vento di Venezia. You can find all the upcoming events there.
I haven’t slept in the hotel nor eaten in the restaurant ‘Ristorante il Certosino’ yet, but having a drink on the terrace with a view on the lagoon amidst the nature is very pleasant. You are surrounded by Venetian families who come there to have a good time with friends while the children and dogs run around freely. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a prosecco or a spritz.
Wherever you are on the island, you can enjoy gorgeous panoramic views of the lagoon, Venice and the other islands.
History and future
The island has a very diverse history. It used to be the location of the religious orders of the Augustinians from 1199 and of the Carthusians from the 15th century. The name Certosa is derived from the Italian name of this order, i.e. Certosini. When Napoleon invaded Venice, he turned this beautiful island into military grounds and destroyed all the art. Afterwards, the Italian army built a munition factory on the island and used it as a shooting range. You can still see several bunkers from this military era in the park and along the marina. As from 1960, Certosa was completely neglected and abandoned.
In 1996, a group of local residents, together with the city of Venice, decided to redevelop this forgotten island. The goal is to create a recreational and green area. The Vento di Venezia organization is now managing the island and coordinating the project. The marina and the park have already undergone many changes, even though the tornado of 2012 damaged many trees and led to a delay in the project. The future plans even include a swimming pool and a Zeppelin for a view from 150 meter high. They would also like to add bridges to cross the canal to the nearby Vignole island. It is however unclear when these plans will be realized.
The Certosa island depends for its electricity on the mainland. Earlier this year, a program was launched together with Terna, the Italian electricity grid operator, to turn Certosa into a renewable energy island. During a 3 year project, they will test electric vehicles and recharging stations, ICT systems for public lighting and broadband connectivity, energy efficiency, photovoltaic systems, mini-wind turbines and batteries for electricity storage. This should allow the island to veer to localized energy management.
How to reach the island?
I realize that it’s often difficult to march off the Venice island if you are there for only a couple of days. However, spending a couple of hours on Certosa is a unique experience. Besides, you will be able to see the skyline of Venice, which you cannot if you stay on the main island.
Certosa can be reached by vaporetto 41/42. It is only one stop from Sant’Elena and from San Pietro. The stop is on request (in the winter season), so don’t forget to mention it when you board the vaporetto. To return, there is a bell on the vaporetto platform. When you press the button, you will see that a light is turned on to show the driver that you would like to be picked up. You just need to make sure you select the right direction.
On your way back, you can get off at Sant’Elena (more on this area in my post ‘Sant’Elena: The perfect area for your stay in Venice’) to walk back to the historical center. Alternatively, you can visit some of the other lagoon islands. Detourism Venezia, the initiative of the City of Venice to promote slow and sustainable tourism for curious travellers, recently published an overview of the lagoon islands in its online magazine. You can use it as an inspiration tool to decide where you want to go.
Don’t miss this chance to visit a quiet oasis with view on the romantic city of Venice. Besides, not many of your friends will already have seen it, so you will have something new to tell them.
Enjoy the trip!
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