At the entrance of the lagoon, among stretches of emerged shoals and canals, in the North-east area of Venice, there is the island of the Lazzaretto Nuovo, in front of Sant’Erasmo shore. The island bears the name of the leper hospital, which was founded in 1468 by the Serenissima government in order to prevent contagion. The Leper Hospital was called New – to distinguish it from the Old one near the Lido of Venice, reserved to the evident cases of plague. The island, then, became the site where the goods and the crews of the merchant ships, suspected of plague, stopped for a period of precautionary isolation before being able to enter into the city, thus arriving to host thousands of people during the worst plagues.
It is possible to visit the island on Saturdays and Sundays from April to October, with a guided tour, which includes a historical and archeological itinerary inside the walls and an external naturalistic walk along the emerged shoals.
Birdwatchers, in the northern part of the Lazzaretto Nuovo, may enjoy a panoramic tower to admire the lagoon species, inhabiting the emerged shoals. These are lands above sea level, slightly appearing on the surface level of the lagoon, which are periodically submerged by the tides. They host herbaceous and shrub-like plants that resist to high saltiness, among which saltwort, artemisia and the limonium or sea lavender, whose late-summer blooming paints the lagoon with purple spots.