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The islet of Torcello offers a good idea of what pre-Republican Venice must have looked like. The marshy and scrub-covered flats of Torcello were a place where the region's first mainlanders sought a safe haven from the barbarian invasions. The roots of Venice are in Torcello. Nowadays, the islet has a strange atmosphere, with an overgrown main square, abandoned buildings and monuments and canal-side walking-ways leading nowhere, but it was once home to 20,000 people.

The marvelous Byzantine mosaics in the Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta are a reminder of the islet's former glory. There are several good trattorie in Torcello.

The islet is in the north of Venice's lagoon, 400 km north of Roma (Rome).

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