Chilling in Torcello
Torcello is a peaceful island in the Venetian Lagoon. What I like most is its “wild” appearance and that has not altered over the centuries. Today it is almost completely uninhabited but in the past (from the fifth to the ninth century) it has been an important urban centre. Torcello, in fact, was one of the first islands to be inhabited by populations fleeing the Longobard invasions.
The need to find a safer place to stay pushed the inhabitants of the island to gradually move to Rivoaltum, the future Venice. Torcello was, for centuries, stripped of marble and bricks that were used for the construction of Venice. By now, just the Cathedral and the Church of Santa Fosca have remained intact.
The “Attila’s throne”
The legend says that during the invasion of the Huns in Italy, in the fifth century, they would have reached the island of Torcello and that the throne was used by the King of Huns, Attila.
In fact, the Huns never came to Torcello, because their advance in Italy stopped at Aquileia (UD). This throne, however, dates back to the fifth century and was probably the chair of the podestà or bishop.
Devil’s Bridge (XV century on foundations of the XIII century)
The origin of the name is still unclear. It seems that “Devils” was the nickname of a local family but others make its name back to a legend.
During the Austrian occupation, a Venetian girl fell in love with an Austrian officer. Her family did not agree and they murdered the officer. The desperate girl turned to a witch who then made a deal with the devil on the girl’s behalf. The contract was quickly arranged: the witch promised to the devil to imprison seven souls of Christian children who died before their baptism in exchange for the return of the officer. The meeting was agreed at midnight on December 24th on that bridge. The girl and the witch presented themselves at the appointment, at the other side of the bridge the devil and the officer were waiting for them.
Following the instructions, the young woman crossed the bridge, reached her loved one and they fled together, finally happy. The witch and the devil, on the other hand, agreed to meet on the 7th night on the same bridge, when she was supposed to deliver the promised souls. But the witch had died a few days before for unknown causes before fulfilling her promise.
From that day, there are those who say that the devil appears every night and those who say he appears only at midnight on December 24, waiting for the agreed souls.