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LOCATION: San Francesco of the Desert
Nowadays St. Francesco of the Desert is inhabited, like some centuries ago, by some Franciscan friars. Tradition wants that St. Francesco from Assisi, while coming back from Palestina, stopped on this small island near Torcello, which in that period was called ‘Due Vigne’ in order to pray in solitude. When the Saint went back to Assisi he sent a group of friars to the place where he had found so much peace. At the death of the Saint in 1228, the owner of the island erected a church in his honour and some years later he offered the island to the minor Franciscans. In 1420 the island was abandoned like many others because of malaria which appeared when these areas got marshy, and from then onwards it acquired the name of St. Francesco of the Desert. Some years later the friars went back there and they restored the church and the monastery, living there till 1806. During that year, in fact, Napoleone Bonaparte suppressed their order and transformed the buildings into powder-magazines. In 1856 Francesco I of Austria offered the island to the Patriarch of Venice, who granted it to the friars followers of the Saint from Assisi. Nowadays the buildings are completely restored, maintained by the friars who live there and they can offer hospitality to those visitors who wants to spend quiet moments in this oasis of green silence.