Situated between Venice and Trieste, Caorle and its 15 kilometres of fine sand, offers both striking beauty and a wide range of accommodation to satisfy every need. The old town of Caorle with its quaint fishing village, has remained unchanged over the ages. The Byzantine Romanesque cathedral and its monumental cylindrical bell tower is the symbol of an enduring ancient tradition.
Caorle’s origins go back to the Roman era, as the numerous archaeological findings in town and in the surroundings testify. The town gained importance for the vicinity to Roman centre of Concordia, of which it became the closest sea port, connected by the river Lemene. Later, Caorle grew in size as a consequence of the Barbarian Invasions– as it also occurred in Rialto (Venice) a few decades later. This forced Concordia’s people to flee and seek refuge along the shore, in areas protected by the sea and the swamps.
Since then, the link between Caorle and the other coastal towns, in particular Venice, is binding and Caorle in fact shares the historical vicissitudes of the Serenissima, though, for centuries, Caorle’s economy has been based primarily on fishing.
The cathedral (Duomo) is the main historical monument in the city. Built in Romanic style in the XI century, it was for many years the bishop‘s headquarters. With its central nave, and two side aisles, it was originally decorated with precious frescoes, of which some traces are still visible in the side apses and in the main entrance. The vast front square hosts the tall and enigmatic bell tower (campanile), from the XI century. Its unique round shape is probably due to its original function, a lighthouse, from the Roman times. Now it shows different decorative styles, double lancet windows, topped by the tall cusp. Its profile is recognizable even from distance, and it has become a distinctive trait of Caorle’s skyline.
Another important town monument is the Marian church of Saint Michael Archangel, commonly known as “Madonna dell’Angelo”. Located in an exceptional position, at the end of a small peninsula, it has always represented a point of reference for sailors. It stands for the strong connection between the town and the sea. In its charming location, the Sanctuary is surrounded by myth: it is said to have protected the population from a violent sea storm that had flooded the city. It hosts a votive stone altar that, according to the legend, was floating in the sea sustaining the statue of the Virgin Mary. A group of children were the only ones able to bring it to shore.
The historic centre is rich on charm thanks to its Venetian atmosphere: yet, no extravagant palaces face the main streets, but rather ancient, modest buildings typical of Venetian sea-port towns. They are lively coloured and built closely together along campi, calli and rii.
In the last two hundred years, numerous reclamations have facilitated the development of agriculture in the areas surrounding the city. These big farms were owned by Venetian families, for instance the Ca’ Corniani farm.
Since the second half of the XX century, Caorle has also witnessed flourishing tourism. It has become one of the major seaside resorts in the Northern Adriatic Sea. It’s appreciated by national and international visitors. The growing number of tourists has lead to the development of new residential areas in the western side of the municipal territory: Porto Santa Margherita, Duna Verde and Altanea.
In recent years, however, the city has felt a stronger need to look back to its origins. It has been creating initiatives to explore and revalue its traditions, its natural environments, and its vast country sides, far from the urban chaos.
PORTO SANTA MARGHERITA
In the centre of the village there are holiday apartments, houses, and residential complexes with swimming pools to satisfy every need; plenty of locales, shops and boutiques, ice-cream shops, pubs, pizzerias, bars and restaurants.
Just a few kilometres away from Porto Santa Margherita and the old town of Caorle, one can find Duna Verde, an oasis of calm for those who prefer a relaxing environment, far away from the traffic, bothersome noises and polluted air of the city. It consists of residential villages, houses and apartments surrounded by greenery and adorned with colourful floral vegetation. A lush pine forest separates the residential complex from the beach of fine sand, equipped with colourful beach umbrellas and served by first-rate bathing facilities. Shops, ice-cream shops, pubs, pizzerias, restaurants and leisure facilities complete what this charming town has to offer.
Since the beginning of the 20th century the territory around Caorle has been deeply modified. Most of the woods of the “Selva Lupanica” were cut to give room to fields for cultivation, rivers were embanked, and marshes were reclaimed. This brought a landscape of wide flat areas, with no trees even along the rivers course.
Along the coast, interment and erosion constantly modify the scenery. On the east side, we encounter a 600 hectares area of marshland, generally called the “Valleys”: Val Grande and Vallesina, both connected to the mouth of River Tagliamento. More towards the east, a pine forest was replanted in the 1930s, with the intention of protecting the farmlands from strong winds. In the south, the Valle Vecchia is an island of more than 700 hectares, located between Caorle and Bibione.
In the last decades, an intense work of naturalization is taking place: more than 20 km of wild hedges, 170 hectares of woods, 60 hectares of damp areas, have been re-established, and a beach with no tourist facilities, rather with a complex system of dunes and a rich pine forest, has been recreated to provide the habitat for rare plant and animal species.
North of the Caorle lagoon lies the Valle Zignago, which borders with the Val Grand. It’s famous for Hemingway’s long sojourns in the area and his memories in the novel “Across the River and into The Trees“.
Moving southwest, there is the rich pine forest in Eraclea Mare. It is an ideal location for long walks and bike rides along its many trails in the trees. The pine forest ends at the “Laguna del Mort” (Lagoon of the dead), which was created due to the overflow of the river Piave in the 1930s. It is now an attractive location for the numerous species of animals and plants living in the area.
Proceeding toward Jesolo, we encounter the river Sile, the Oasis “Tre Palade” and the Venice Lagoon, an ideal environment for the reproduction of small mammals, reptiles, and amphibious, and many species of birds. The landscape is still rather wild, with changing sandbanks and the fishing valleys.
Along the river Piave that ends near Jesolo, there is the park in San Dona’ di Piave, with is rich forest, nice clearings and charming corners. One can bike along the dry river bed up to Noventa di Piave where a memorial stone commemorates the American writer, Hemingway.
Going east, in the municipality of San Stino di Livenza, the two ancient forests of Bandiziol and Prassacon, once belonging to the Serenissima Republic of Venice, have been recently replanted. Proceeding eastbound towards Portogruaro, the territory is rich with water-flows, forests, and wide meadows. The area is crossed by the rivers Lemene and Reghena, along which one can still see old watermills; some have been abandoned for years, yet others, newly restored, can be visited, namely the ones in Stalis, in Boldare, in Sega, in Gruaro, in Nogarol and in Bagnara.
From Portogruaro to Fossalta one must stop at the monumental oak in Villanova, an oak more than 500 years old, and 7 meters diameter. Then visit Villa Moncenigo, a beautiful park in Alvisopoli. We are now close to the region Friuli, separated by the river Tagliamento, whose banks present the same rich wild vegetation of the river Piave. Through the towns of San Michele, San Filippo Cesarolo up to Bevazzana the landscape presents the uniform characteristics of farmlands. At the mouth of the Tagliamento River, it changes to acquire the characteristics of the lagoon valleys mentioned above.
Scuba diving lovers might be interested in visiting the “Tegnue” in Falconera. It has peculiar rocky sea floors, originated from particular chemical and biological conditions. The areas are rather important for their animal and plant population, in particular: algae, corals, fish and crustaceans. Here they find their ideal habitat.
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