Located a short distance from the islands of Burano, Mazzorbo and Mazzorbetto, the current name of the island of Torcello seems to derive from Dorceum - a marshy islet - or from Turricellum, probably the name of one of the ports of ancient Altinum.
In the past it was the heart of the social and economic life of the Venetian civilization, permanently inhabited since the 7th century by a population dedicated to hunting, fishing and salt harvesting, and there were probably some peripheral villas near fishermen’s houses as well. Today it is an island inhabited by a few dozen people who continue to live together with the buildings of the past, testament to life on the island.
Torcello's downfall began in the 9th century, when its economic and social activity was slowly, but completely, absorbed by the rialto area. The depopulation was probably due to various reasons, but it can be assumed that malaria and the threat of silting in the surrounding lagoon area played a role, so much so that the episcopal seat was transferred to Murano. Traces of the ancient authority remained in the survival of the council in the Muranese territory, in the statute and in the Libro d’Oro (Golden Book) - the only exception of such a high degree of autonomy allowed by the Serenissima.
One of the symbols of the island, known above all for the two legends connected to it, is the Devil's Bridge, historically important as being one of the last surviving examples of the ancient bridges without parapets and guard rails which were much more common and widespread in the past.
The Church of Santa Fosca - one of the oldest Venetian-style monuments in Ravenna - together with the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta - one of the oldest churches in Venice - represents the most impressive works of Torcello, along with the bell tower that stands out in the view of the lagoon, as if to protect the island. The Throne of Attila is also legendary - a real stone throne, probably dating back to the 5th century - near the Palazzo del Consiglio and Archivio - now the headquarters of the Provincial Museum of Torcello.