The Island of the Dead
November 2nd is All Souls' Day, a solemn feast commemorating the faithful departed. It is still the custom on this day for Italians to visit the graves of deceased family members. And in Venice that means a trip to the island of San Michele, which lies a short distance to the north of the city.
In days gone by a temporary bridge was thrown across the lagoon; nowadays people must use the vaporetto.
Up until the fall of the Venetian Republic, in 1797, the dead were actually buried in the city. Deemed unhygienic, this practise was banned by Napoleon and from 1807 Venetians were interred on the island of San Cristoforo della Pace. Between 1835 and 1839 the channel dividing San Cristoforo from its neighbour, San Michele, was filled in and the cemetery expanded.
In 1892 a crematorium, one of the first in Italy, was opened on the island.