Although located only a short vaporetto ride from Venice, the little-known island of Mazzorbo seems like worlds away. With only a few couple of hundred resident it is hard to believe that 1000 years ago Mazzorbo was a lively settlement with thousands of inhabitants.
The island is connected to its more famous neighbour, Burano, with a long wooden footbridge and sees very few visitors. Winston Churchill used to come here with his easel to paint. Today, only the most curious tourists and people in the know arrive to this peaceful backwater to stroll along Mazzorbo’s few streets, wonder off to see cultivated fields and views over the lagoon, admire the 8th century Church of Santa Caterina and … drink the local wine that Venetian nobles used to love.
Wine connoisseurs know Mazzorbo for Scarpa Volo, the ancient estate encircled by medieval walls, which has been lovingly restored by the Bisol family, well-respected prosecco wine producers. The Bisols have been making wine for 21 generations and stepped in to save the local vineyard a decade ago. Once a thriving farm with fruit orchards, a vegetable garden, fishpond and vines had been in decay for centuries when the new owners arrived. They restored the estate and put all their energy into reviving la Dorona, the “golden grape” as it was called by the Doges of Venice, which had been
forgotten for a long time.
It is not an easy task to keep a vineyard on Mazzorbo: the constant threat of high water (“l’aqua alta”) and elevated salt levels of the soil limit production. As a consequence, the yield from the vines here is one of the lowest in the world. Every year between four and five thousand bottles of Venissa, highly prized white wine, as well as red, are produced in the vineyard. The wine is sold in gold foil embellished bottles hand-made by a Murano glass master. The vineyard has a simple hotel and a restaurant where gourmet and wine connoisseurs flock to enjoy exquisite food and the ancient wine.
Photos by: Michael Day/Flickr, Venissa/Facebook.