Le Vignole – Isola delle Vignole – is a rural island close to Venice, but not much visited by non-Venetians. It’s on a public ferry route, though, so it’s easy to make a short trip to the island, perhaps en route to the larger neighbouring island of Sant’Erasmo.
The number 13 ferry from Venice (Fondamente Nove) to Sant’Erasmo stops at Le Vignole. It runs approximately every hour, although occasional services may stop at Vignole by request only (information is displayed on current timetables).
About the island
Le Vignole is not an easy island to explore. 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 you can only walk a matter of yards on open ‘public’ path. This route leads away from the stop along a wide canal which divides the island, arriving at the island’s church: a little white chapel – kept closed. This is all that remains of a seventh-century church dedicated to St. Erosia.
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. In the distance, on the lagoon shore, are what appear to be ramshackle industrial buildings; there are also old fortifications which once guarded the sea entrance to the Venetian lagoon. The island is verdant and lively with nature; small birds hop around in green hedges, butterflies flutter and visiting wading birds probe the marshy waters for food.
I’m not sure how much I should advise exploring, given the abundance of ‘private’ signs. But if you do wander, you may come across moorings reserved for hired houseboats, smallholdings with goats and chickens, rows of vines and some picturesque views. Colourfully, though rather bizarrely, peacocks wander the island – I was once intrigued to see a picnicking family catch the ferry here clutching peacock feathers; my thoughts leapt to all those peacock carvings on Venice’s walls. When I see those stone bas-reliefs now, I can smile at the thought of the nearby island where real peacocks roam.
History of the island
It was the vineyards which gave the island its name; it also used to be called Isola delle sette vigne, Island of the seven vineyards. This was once a holiday spot for inhabitants of the mainland and of Venice. Later it acquired a more military function; the islands in this part of the lagoon had considerable strategic importance, as they face Venice’s principal entrance from the Adriatic sea (before the extension of the northern Lido di Cavallino, the sea came right up to their shores). One of Venice’s two main defensive fortresses, the Forte di Sant’Andrea, is on an island connected to Le Vignole. It’s still a military zone and can’t be visited, although you can admire the massive historic fortifications from ferries passing on the seaward side (try the LN Venice – Lido – Punta Sabbioni ferry from Riva degli Schiavoni, or the seasonal 18 from the Lido). Nowadays, like some of the other northern lagoon islands, Le Vignole seems forgotten and sleepy, although it is farmed and lived-in, rather than abandoned.
You’ll see elderly local ladies alighting from the ferry to go home with their full shopping trolleys; there’s next to nothing in the way of services on Le Vignole, although the residents grow plenty of fruit and vegetables. There’s a drinking water tap by the chapel and, usefully for visitors, there are two places where you can eat and drink. 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. This trattoria is closed on Mondays and in winter (open from mid-April); its 200m-long approach path provides a welcome opportunity to see more of Le Vignole’s landscape. I spotted another peacock and a rather surprising clapped-out car parked in a field (there are no roads). There is also an agriturismo (farm holiday base), the Agriturismo da Zangrando, which serves meals five days a week in summer and less often in winter: it’s best to call ahead on 041 5284020.
A longer island trip
Since it’s on the route to Sant’Erasmo, you can combine Le Vignole well with the larger island. Since the ferries only run once an hour you’ll need to study the timetable at the ferry stop (or get one in advance from an ACTV ticket kiosk in Venice) in order to make the most of your day.
On this site
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