The main cemetery of Venice lies on the islands of San Michele and island known as San Cristoforo della Pace until the canal between the two was covered joining them together. The island is normally reached by the vaporetti which pass from F.dte Nove to Murano.
Both people and the loved ones arrive everywhere by boat, even to their eternal resting place.
The island of San Michele is home to the first Renaissance Church of Venice and a monastery. It also served as a prison for a short time. It’s days as a cemetery began when Venice was under French occupation and the French declared that no one could be buried in Venice.
It is the resting place to many famous names including Igor Stravinsky, Ezra Pound, Joseph Brodsky, who attract many visitors in search of their graves. Others famous include the discover of the doppler effect (an important scientific principle), Christian Andreas Doppler and Salvador de Iturbide y Marzán, grandson of the first emperor of independent Mexico.
Reviving the tradition of 70 years ago (since the 1950s) a pontoon bridge has been built and once again families can walk from Fondamenta Nove to San Michele on the days celebrating All Saints’ Day and All Souls Day.
The pontoon bridge, known as “il ponte votivo al cimitero” is some 450 meter (about 1/4 of a mile) from F.te Nove to the entrance of the cemetary. Venetians has experience building these pontoon bridges as they build each year for Redentore and the Festa della Salute both celebrating the end of the plague. They must accommodate the vaporetti that ply the waters circling the island and to Murano.
Before the bridges are finished they must conduct trials to be sure they do not interfer with such things as fire boats, ambulances and delivery boats.
It will take you about 10 minutes to walk. However in the first days, only Venetians and those holding the Venezia Unica (used to be known as IMOB) are allowed. On Saturday about 100,000 people smothered Venice so you can see it was important that the elderly Venetians who want to visit their loved ones had access without being trampled. It was impossible to walk in the streets and the vaporetto lines were for hours. Fortunately, the island closes at 4 pm and the droves of tourist depart the city….like an outgoing tide.
I will just leave you with a must less crowded view, one of my favorite with Dante – more about this later.