Island #5 – San Giorgio Maggiore

I am still in Venice for island #5. Isola San Giorgio Maggiore is probably one of the most photographed islands in the world as it is the one you can see across the laguna from the edge of Piazza San Marco and is often photographed through a line of gondolas. It is actually a little gem of an island and one to which I sadly did not do justice on this visit because of the miserable weather.

Easily accessible from the vaporetto hub of San Zaccharia just around the corner from St Mark’s Square (take line #2 to S. Giorgio), Isola San Giorgio Maggiore is a brilliant place from which to look back at Venice and, on a clearer day than the day of my visit, from which to take photos of the sun setting behind Venice. Apparently you also get a fantastic view of Piazza San Marco from the top of San Giorgio’s bell tower although I have never been up there. The bell tower looks very similar to the Campanile in Piazza San Marco but can be distinguished by its round top.

The island is thought to have been inhabited since Roman times and has had an interesting history – as a monastery, then a military garrison and now as headquarters to the Cini Foundation Arts Centre with its famous historical library and open-air theatre. There is even a labyrinth (on my list for next time). Some of the island’s buildings have been developed into exclusive guest quarters and have hosted many world leaders.  The island hosted the G7 meetings in 1980 and 1987.

What I did

The weather was so miserable that I didn’t stay long on the island.  The aeriel photographs are taken from the top of the Campanile and some from the Riva degli Schiavoni across the laguna on the main Venice island.  I enjoyed a walk around the yacht harbour and watched the hopeful photographers setting up their tripods for the sunset. I passed by on the vaporetto on the second day and managed to take some pictures with a slightly bluer sky!

On a clear day, and even on a not-so-clear day, little San Giorgio is well worth a visit.  It’s a 5 minute hop on the vaporetto. You can wander around, visit the harbour and the gardens, enjoy a drink on the terrace of the little bar behind the harbour and go up the bell tower for spectacular views across Venice and the islands of the laguna on the other side. Mass is celebrated in the church. If you are there at sunset be sure to point your camera westward although you might find lots of other photographers are doing the same!

I’ll be back to walk the labyrinth and go up the bell tower!

Next island: Staying in Venice for one more island, Murano.

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