Apart from the usual islands tour – Murano, Burano, Torcello – there’s one small island you might want to visit. It’s San Lazzaro degli Armeni, a stone’s throw from Lido. There’s a vaporetto – number 20 – leaving each day from San Zaccaria at 3.10 p.m. in coincidence with the guided tours held by the Meckitarist monks.
In the 15th century the place was a leper colony, hence the name Lazzaro, the patron saint of lepers. The hospital was moved in the 16th century and the island was abandoned. It became Armenian in 1717. The monastery was and remains an important centre for Armenian culture. Lord Byron studied in the library, helping the monks to prepare the first English-Armenian dictionary. The ancient library contains 150,000 volumes, beautiful illuminated manuscripts, oriental artefacts and an Egyptian mummy (450-430 BC) attributed to Namenkhet Amun, a priest at the Amon Temple in Karnak.
For those visiting the Venice Biennale there’s a special discount on the entrance ticket for the show Armenity. More info here.
Don’t forget to ask for Vartanush (literally sweet rose), a special jam made from rose petal around May.
What are you waiting for?
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