Comacchio is located 3 kilometers from the sea on the north coast of Emilia-Romagna, in the Po Delta, 50 km from Ferrara, 35 km from Ravenna, 110 km from Venice. It is also called the “little Venice” because it is a lagoon city where fresh or brackish waters are the dominant features of the landscape in the midst of a haven of plants and woods.
This itinerary is suitable for both families and small groups who want to spend a day outdoors and discover the special natural beauty and historical sites of Comacchio, now considered the capital of the Po Delta Park.
The park is one of the most important natural areas of interest in Europe, included in the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites as “an outstanding planned cultural landscape which retains its original form to a high degree” and where human activity coexists with nature conservation.
A visit to Comacchio means first of all be facing the splendid steps that lead to the top of its ancient elegant and distinctive entrance called “Trepponti” (Three bridges), the symbol of Comacchio, overlooking the navigable canal. Heir to the ancient Etruscan port, Spina, Comacchio is a city with characteristic architectural features, a city of canals, palaces and monumental bridges.
Continuing our tour we arrive in the square overlooking the canal where the ancient Fish Market is evidence of marine activity in Comacchio. It is a beautiful building of the seventeenth century, now home to the daily fish market where we can savor the atmosphere of a place whose people have always been devoted to fishing and salt production.
Crossing the “Ponte degli Sbirri” (Bridge of the Cops) we enjoy a wonderful view: on the left Palazzo Bellini, noble residence of the nineteenth century, and to the right, in what was the Estensi prison, the civic museum of the cargo of a Roman ship, which houses within it a rich and singular material found on board the Augustan period vessel that ran aground a short distance from the town: the whole cargo on board the same ship. Opposite is the stately ancient Hospital for the Infirm.
We continue to the right along the path flanked by calm canals and reach the center where the Clock Tower comes into view . Turn left and along the Loggia del Grano or dei Mercanti, you come to the seventeenth-century Cathedral of St. Cassiano flanked by the Bell Tower, up to the long portico consisting of 143 arches of the Cappuccini Cloisters. It is a must to take a walk in the longest cloisters in Italy.
Here we are, we have arrived at an extraordinary museum-workshop: the old Pickling Factory used for processing eels. It has been completely restored to full working order. It is possible to visit the “Fire Room” with 12 stoves for roasting skewered eels before being marinated.
At the end of the walk we turn our gaze to the shrine of Santa Maria in Aula Regia which conserves a statue of the Madonna, arrived mysteriously from the sea.
A little trip: the best time to visit Comacchio is from April to mid-October. In particular, for those who love the flavors of the sea, the first two weekends of October are dedicated to the eel festival with gastronomic stands and street entertainment.
What to eat. The winner: eel cooked in numerous ways. Delicious starters with scallops, shrimps, cockles; among the first courses: seafood risotto and spaghetti with shellfish followed by the delicious grilled eel with polenta along with sole, mullet, turbot, bream and stuffed squid. Accompanied of course with excellent top quality Bosco Eliceo wines
Comacchio is linked from the “Via del Delta” to the Gastronomic Trail
- The Slow Spring (March to June) and the International Bird-watching Fair (in May) are dedicated to the environmental richness of the Po Delta;
• Pink Night in early July, an event where everything becomes pink for a great night of entertainment in Comacchio and on the coast;
• The Eel Feast in early October, with food stands and a circuit of restaurants with themed menus.
INFORMATION ON THE VISIT
Meeting point: Trepponti
End point: Cloister of the Capuchins
OTHER RECOMMENDED EXCURSIONS
After the walk in the old town you could take a nature trail by motor boat of about 2 hours through the Comacchio lagoons. It allows you to grasp feeling of the past by visiting the casoni (fishing huts) and tabarre (stores/workshops), the tools for catching fish and an incredible vegetation. Bird-watching is a particular attraction.
It is possible to combine the visit to Comacchio with a tour of Ferrara (50 Km), a city of art of Unesco heritage, where you can visit the Estense Castle, stroll in the narrow medieval streets or go cycling on the imposing Renaissance walls or, Alternatively, visit the splendid Pomposa Abbey, a few km away, it awaits us with its marvelous 14th century Giotto style frescos.
Possible entrance fees:
Roman Ship Museum 4,50 euros – reduced 2,50 euros
Pickling Factory 2,00 euros – reduced 1,00 euro