As strange as it might sound, I like the quiet, peaceful and concentrated feeling you can find in cemeteries. San Michele island’s purpose has changed over the centuries: abbey, monastery, prison… it only started hosting the city’s monumental cemetery in the 19th century.
Beside its spiritual and pensive atmosphere, San Michele island is also interesting because of its architectural beauty and historic importance. Among the islands surrounding Venice’ main body, this is the closest of the ones in the northern lagoon, and you can clearly see it from Fondamente Nove, the long shore on the northern side of the city and from the Fondamenta Nove’ vaporetto stop. One can hardly miss it, considering its beautiful “terracotta” walls and the cypresses framing it. It gives you the impression it’s a magical isolated garden rising from the water.
Several famous persons are buried here, both Italian and international: American poet Ezra Pound, Russian composer Stravinsky, “Ballets Russes” founder Sergei Diaghilev and many others. The big map at the island’s entrance should help you orientate yourself in the huge cemetery, but it is quite old and not really clear. So, despite the information I could find on internet, the first time I went there I struggled quite a bit to locate the tombs of these personalities, which is a good way to end up exploring the whole island.