The island of Lazzaretto Nuovo in Venice

The island of Lazzaretto Nuovo in Venice
The island of Lazzaretto Nuovo in Venice
The island of Lazzaretto Nuovo (the new lazaretto) is located near one of the three entrances to the Lagoon, about three kilometres north-east of Venice, opposite the island of Sant'Erasmo.

It is thought that this island has probably played a strategic role since ancient times in controlling the sea routes to the mainland.

Archaeological finds testify to human presence here as far back as the Bronze Age, and the first written document dates back to 1015.

It is a notarial deed that refers to the island of Lazzaretto Nuovo as " Vigne close ".

The island of the Lazzaretto Nuovo in Venice, the interior of the Grand Tezon
Interior of the Grand Tezon
In the Medieval Age, this island belonged to the monks of Saint George Major, who built a church dedicated to Saint Bartolomé.

In 1468, by decree of the Republic of Venice, a lazaretto was built here to prevent the spread of disease. A quarantine lazaretto. This lazaretto was called "new" to distinguish it from the one that already existed near the Lido, the Lazzaretto Vecchio, where, by contrast, confirmed cases of plague were treated.

The island thus became a quarantine centre for ships arriving from various Mediterranean ports and suspected of carrying the disease.

Graffiti and wall art inside the Grand Tezon
Graffiti and wall art inside the Grand Tezon
For reasons of efficiency, several buildings were constructed, each with its own functions.

In 1576, according to Sansovino, the Lazzaretto Nuovo had one hundred rooms and, from a distance, looked like a castle.

This appearance was due to the hundreds of large Venetian-style chimneys that adorned the cells and leaned against the surrounding wall.

In the interior spaces, large sheds were built to decontaminate the goods. The smoke generated by aromatic herbs such as juniper and rosemary was used to decontaminate the goods.

The Great Tezón

The island of Lazzaretto Nuovo in Venice, the Grand Tezon
Lazzaretto Nuovo, the Grand Tezon
This is the most important building on the island. The great Tezón, which dates from the XIVe century, is over a hundred metres long.

It is the largest public building in Venice after the Arsenal Corderie.

It preserves numerous graffiti and wall drawings that bear witness to the presence of merchants, labourers and also the guards of the Health Magistracy.


Recent excavations have brought to light the original pavements and foundations of the buildings, alongside a large number of other finds (ceramics, seals, tombstones, glassware) that provide us with a wealth of information about the strange human history that unfolded on this island in Lazzaretto Nuovo.

Graffiti and wall drawings inside the Grand Tezon
Graffiti and wall drawings
Research is currently being carried out by the Archéoclub d'Italie, under the supervision of the Veneto Archaeological Superintendency (NAUSICAA), and is focusing on the eastern part of the island, where the quarantine chambers and the lazaretto priory were located.

The Fortifications

During the XVIIIe century, the island's sanitary function was gradually abandoned.

During Napoleonic and then Austrian rule, the island was used for military purposes and formed part of the lagoon's defence system.

The large arches of the Tezón were blocked off to turn the building into a powder magazine, while the surrounding wall was equipped with loopholes, guardhouses, large bastions of Istrian stone and earthworks on the outside.

The island of Lazzaretto Nuovo was linked to the Sant'Erasmo bridgehead and the Massimiliano Tower battery, which controlled the entrance to the Lido harbour.

The island of Lazzaretto Nuovo in Venice, the interior of the Grand Tezon
The interior of the Grand Tezon

The Lazzaretto Nuovo today

The Italian army used the island until 1975, which means that the island of the new lazaretto, attached to the Ministry of Cultural Assets and Activities, is one of the few, among the abandoned islands in the Venice lagoon, to have undergone a large-scale rehabilitation operation and this thanks to a series of restorations carried out in recent years.

These restoration operations were carried out primarily by the Superintendency for Environmental and Architectural Issues and the Water Magistracy.

Several years ago, the island was granted to a voluntary association, which is responsible for its care and management as part of a general project entitled "For the rebirth of an island".

Sculpture from the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, a “miss”, on the island of Lazzaretto Nuovo in Venice
Sculpture, island of Lazzaretto Nuovo
This association benefits from the collaboration of various institutions and carries out numerous scientific and cultural activities.

From the outside, the island of Lazzaretto Nuovo has a jagged perimeter, formed by a high dyke on the western side, towards Murano, and bordered by "barene" on the other sides.

A quadrangular fortified wall, with loopholes and guardhouses, dating back to the first half of the nineteenth century, marks the boundary of the area containing the oldest buildings on the island.

Sights of nature

Along the old military pathway, which stretches for almost a kilometre around the island, there are sites of great interest from a nature point of view, with a 360° panorama of the lagoon facing Venice.

This path leads through groves of laurel, ash, hawthorn, wild plum and marsh cane.

The island of Lazzaretto Nuovo in Venice, the Grand Tezon
Lazzaretto Nuovo, the Grand Tezon
The north side, bordered by a small canal where typical lagoon fish and crustaceans can be seen, features a wide variety of "barene" plants including limonium, glasswort and artemisia.

À Inside the enclosure, along the radiating alleys dating back to the Austrians, there are a number of centuries-old mulberry trees; around the well coping, ash and poplar trees; along the walls to the north, fruit trees that have returned to the wild.

The island and its surroundings are frequented by seagulls, gulls, egrets, grey herons, cormorants, a few kingfishers, marsh birds and nocturnal birds of prey.

In summer, a colony of white stilts can also be seen, which has been increasing steadily in recent years.

The island of Lazzaretto Nuovo is accessible via the line number 13 of the Vaporetto Water Bus from the Fondamente Nuove in Venice. You should ask the Vaporetto driver to stop there, as it is an optional stop on the line.

Visit the island of Lazzaretto Nuovo

Guided tours from April to October (duration 75 minutes)
From 9:45 to 16:30

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