Isola di San Francesco del Deserto

November 17, 2015 / Places
San Francesco del Deserto, Veneto

An ancient island located in a Venetian lagoon is home to a Franciscan sanctuary where visitors are greeted with a spirit of warmth and hospitality. Famed as the location where St. Francis landed upon his return from the Holy Lands, Franciscan friars have maintained a presence here since 1220. The name “del Deserto” comes from a period in the first half of the 15th century, when, due to malaria, the friars deserted the island for twenty some years. After this period of time, the friars returned and have been there ever since.


My visit to the isola was all too short. I arrived mid morning to a small island forested by cedars, flowering bushes and plants. A spirit of silence embraced me as I stepped off the boat that transported me.


The friars warmly greeted me when I entered the church. A walk around the property was reflective and contemplative. Had I planned my time differently, I would have stayed in the guest house, available to those who wish to spend a longer period of time on the island. Unlike the other areas surrounding Venice, this is a place devoid of all commerce. There are no shops, no stores, no food vendors; only peaceful quiet and solitude.


This place certainly offered a very different experience of Venice for me. Quiet, remote and removed from the hustle and bustle one expects to find when visiting Venice, Isola San Francesco del Deserto offered the possibility of finding one’s soul – truly priceless.



by Tom Hartle

Tom is a resident of New Jersey. A seeker and a wanderer; a lover of life and a person who has a passion for new adventures. “We are not here for a long time – – – we are here for a good time.”

8 Responses to “Isola di San Francesco del Deserto”

  1. Frank Bettinelli

    One of my many favorite Saints. This one in particular, ashe is my patron namesake.
    The Isola sounds very inviting. There are times you would love to break away from the noise and bustle of civilization, especially in todays chaos.

  2. Mairin O'Mahony

    It sounds wonderful. How does one get there? Thank you for telling us all about it.

    • Hi Mairin, To get to the Isola you either have to ask the friars who live there to come and take you or you have to get a water taxi to take you there. I had the friars take me there and then they took me to Burano where I was able to get the vaporetto. Tom

  3. Anstell Ricossa

    I have not heard of this beautiful Isola, even though we have visited Venice many times. As a native San Franciscan, it would be very meaningful for me to visit , hopefully on my next visit (hopefully) to that most beautiful city.

  4. Maryanne Maggio Hanisch

    Grazie, mio amico! A lovely note about a truly unique place in Venice!

  5. Lina Falcone

    This Isola sounds great and peaceful St. Francis is one of my favorite among many others. Grazie

  6. Novak, Patricia

    I have been to this island also and it as as peaceful and lovely as pictured and described.


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