Once, the islands in the Lagoon were densely inhabited, each occupied by a town or at least a monastery. Whenever the city became claustrophobic and sad, all a Venetian had to do was get in a boat:
Coi pensieri malinconici
Non te star a tormentar.
Vien co me, montemo in gondola, Andaremo fora in mar.
(Don't remain tormenting yourself with melancholy thoughts/Come with me, let's get in the gondola/ go off to sea)
By the 1990s, all but a few of the islands were abandoned; many a tiny one, with its forlorn, vandalized shell of a building, has been abandoned to weeds.
Recently, however, the boom in property prices around Venice has seen new interest in re-investing and restoring them by business interests either as luxury hotels (San Clemente), residential housing (Santo Spirito), sport centres (La Certosa), archaeological sites (Lazzaretto Novo) and even as, just what Venice really needs, a theme park (Sacca San Biagio).
Images by: Tony Hisgett, Creative Commons License