Ashes to Ashes in Venice

Funeral boat in Venice heading to San Michele island

Funeral boat in Venice heading to San Michele island

When someone dies in the beautiful city of Venice (yes, you can die there too) usually the body will be burried on the small island of San Michele, which became the city cemetery under the rule of Napoleon, who thought it would be more hygienic for the citizens to have the remains of their loved ones buried a bit far away from the main historic centre!

This is a very small island and for many years only the citizens of the city could be buried there. Now, with a new regulation of the Comune di Venezia, anyone can scatter the ashes of their loved ones on the lagoon.

Anyone, residents but also any non-Venetians, who is inspired by Death in Venice by Thomas Mann can now come to Venice and part with the loved ones in such a romantic manner. The city’s environmental assessor, Gianfranco Bettin has declared “We took into account the many foreigners who love this city and who would like to be buried here, but who would not find room at the cemetery.”

The council is going to build a small little pier extending into the lagoon from San Michele,and from here the ashes can be scattered. Or, if prefered, the mourners can go to the Lido and charter a boat which takes them 700 metres out into the Adriatic to empty their urns under the supervision of a public official.

A council spokeswoman declared a price will be charged: non-residents €350 (£300) and residents only €50.

A small lawn will also be set aside at San Michele, where American poet Ezra Pound and Russian composer Igor Stravinsky are buried, for those wishing to scatter ashes on dry land.

The council regulation also permits locals to keep ashes at home on the mantelpiece for the first time. Bettin said the rules were based on a new national law. “We are the first big city to put them into effect,” he said. “Understandably we have a real problem with space for the deceased here.”


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