Abandoned to water and sky and what earth the roots of the scrubby trees and grass can hold, abandoned islands dot the lagoon of Venice.
San Spirito, now extinct, once testified to the friendship of two early Renaissance men: Jacopo Marcello, a Venetian nobleman and military leader, and Francesco Sforza, a condottiere (mercenary general) who rose to be ruler of Milan from 1450 to 1466. Francesco and his wife Bianca Maria Visconti commissioned one of the earliest extant tarot decks.
When Venice’s enemies hired Francesco Sforza, he fought against Jacopo Marcello. When the Serene Republic bought Francesco’s prowess, the two men were brothers-in-arms. Throughout all, they remained friends.
Marcello’s tomb once lay in the church San Cristoforo della Pace, on San Spirito. Francesco Sforza was memorialized with a tablet in the same church for his role in the 1454 Peace of Lodi, which brought four decades of peace to the Italian peninsula, after many decades of incessant warfare.
The church is gone, its precious artworks and testimonies scattered, and the island itself is sunk. All were razed by order of Napoleon, to join the island of San Cristoforo to the cemetary island of San Michele.