In the northern Venetian Lagoon, between the islands of Sant’Erasmo and Burano, there is a small but famous island, inhabited solely by Franciscan friars: San Francesco Del Deserto.
This gem is a monastery island of only 4 hectares, already known in Roman times as the Island of the Two Vigne. In 1220 the island was visited by Saint Francis of Assisi, who wanted to build a place of gathering and meditation, which can still be admired today in the quietness of the convent. In 1233 the owner of the island, the Venetian patrician Jacopo Michiel, formally donated the island to the Franciscan friars. In the 15th century, the island and the convent were abandoned due to adverse conditions (malaria), hence the term deserted (Deserto), even though the abandonment lasted only a few dozen years.
The island was later conquered by Napoleon’s soldiers in 1806 who plundered the monastery and the church of its ornaments. Due to this occupation, the Franciscan community had to move to the monastery of San Bonaventura in Venice. Subsequently the area was converted into a powder magazine by the Austrians until 1858, when the land was donated to the patriarchate of Venice, which allowed the friars to return and re-found the monastery, still active today.
Today the island is open to the public for a few hours in the morning and a few hours in the afternoon, with tours guided by the friars themselves. The island is not reachable by public transport, so we recommend you contact us to organize a private trip to this timeless jewel. Vidal Venice Tours will make you remember this unique experience for the rest of your life!