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San Servolo island
San MIchele island - Venice
The island owes its name to the medieval church built and dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel. It lies about 300 meters north of Venice which is connected through a line of water-bearing in Murano. Because of its proximity to the famous island of glass San Michele was also used for storing boats from which was derived the ancient name of Cavana Muran.

In 1212 St. Michael became the seat of Camaldolesi monks who built a church and then turned into a hermitage monastery (1250) and finally in a abbey. It was a site of cultural importance during the Middle Ages having a famous scriptorium to produce thumbnails and codes both for the rich library of the monastery and for sale outside.
At the same time arose also a school with courses in humanities, theology and philosophy. Thanks to this incessant study and copy the library came to have 40,000 volumes at the time of its closure followed the political turmoil caused by the invasion of Napoleon Bonaparte in Italy. Many of the works inside were looted while the codes survivors found the path of Marciana, the Academy of Fine Arts and other schools and libraries in Italy.

In the fifteenth century along the western edge of the island was built the church of San Michele in Isola designed by Codussi (1469), first Renaissance church in Venice and islands.

The Island of San Servolo is located south east of Venice along the shipping line 20 which that leads from San Zaccaria to Venice Lido passing by San Lazzaro degli Armeni.

The first settlement was made by the Benedictine monks of the monastery of Santo Stefano di Altino who fled the island after the arrival of the Franks in Italy (VIII sec.) and founded a monastery. In the tenth century the church was rebuilt and the island received the visit of Emperor Otto III, who went undercover in Italy to meet the Doge Pietro Orseolo II.
The Benedictines lived on the island until the early twelfth century when they ceded it to the Benedictine Nuns, fled from the city of Malamocco (1109). The nuns settled here for about 500 years during which the buildings were re-founded and was built the bell tower, ended on September 15, 1456.

By order of the Senate Benedictine nuns were transferred to the Convent of Santa Maria of Humility in Venice (June 27, 1615) and the island remained uninhabited except for the presence of a guard chaplain who officiated the Mass for the gardeners who frequented the island. Deposits of public wheat were also created and a public hospital was opened to house plague victims (1630).

A few years later (1647) came the Benedictine nuns, Dominican and Franciscan fleeing from the island of Crete as a result of Turkish invasion, who remained here for seventy years (1716) until their extinction when the Senate then assigned the island to the Fathers of St John of God Hospital. Island soon became specialized in the hospitality of the mentally sick persons and in 1798 the Austrian government declared San Servolo main insane asylum center of Veneto, Dalmatia and the Tyrol.

With the passage of Venice to the Kingdom of Italy (1866) San Servolo was entrusted to the Province of Venice that ran it until 1978 when it was approved the law 180/1978, better known as Law Basaglia, which sanctioned the closure of mental hospitals.
During the last decade of the twentieth century, the Province of Venice began a program to reallocate the island that today houses the Fondazione San Servolo IRSESC (Institute for Research and Studies on social and cultural), the Venice International University as a residence for graduate students and international students and, since 2008, a seat of the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice.

In the island it's possible to visit a museum of the mental hospital, an old pharmacy and a library. The public transport line to get here is the number 20 which leaves every half hour from the stop San Zaccaria and leads to San Servolo in about 5 minutes.

Web Site: Fondazione San Servolo

 

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