La Capella Emiliana

The cemetery island of San Michele, which Augustus Hare called, "the quiet isle of sepulchres" (138), is a short vaporetto ride from Murano. All that remains of the original monastery here is the cloister, and the Renaissance church. The white Istrian stone hexagonal Capella Emiliana (at the right above) dates from the sixteenth century.

Ruskin was not a great admirer of the Church of St. Michele in Isola, which is “on the island between Venice and Murano. The little Cappella Emiliana at the side of it has been much admired, but it would be difficult to find a building more feelingless or ridiculous. It is more like a German summer-house, or angle turret, than a chapel, and may be briefly described as a bee-hive set on a low hexagonal tower, with dashes of stone-work about its windows like the flourishes of an idle penman.

“The cloister of this church is pretty; and the attached cemetery is worth entering, for the sake of feeling the strangeness of the quiet sleeping ground in the midst of the sea” (11.392-93).

The Cemetery

The cemetery itself was laid out in the nineteenth century (see Baedecker 85). Because it is so spatially compromised, human remains are generally transferred to an ossuary after twelve years, so that the ground can be reused. This may not apply to the more famous people buried here, among whom were Stravinsky, Diaghilev, and Ezra Pound. Beside Pound is Olga Rudge, the American concert violinist who had been his mistress.

The Ossuary.

The graves of Ezra Pound and Olga Rudge, the American concert violinist who had been his mistress.

Approaching the island on an overcast day.

Photographs by Banerjee 2005 and Freidus 2020. George P. Landow, who edited and formatted this page, took the bottom photograph in 2000. [You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]


Baedeker's Venice. AA edition, 1987.

Hare, Augustus. Venice. 2nd ed. London: Smith, Elder, 1888. Internet Archive, from a copy in the University of California Libraries. Web. 28 March 2020.

Ruskin, John. The Works. Ed. E. T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn. “The Library Edition.” 39 vols. London: George Allen,1903-1912.

"San Michele in Isola, Cappella Emiliana, 1999-2006." Venice in Peril. Web. 28 March 2020.

Last Modified 28 March 2020