Comacchio, Province of Ferrara, Emilia-Romagna

The commune is one of the main centres of the Po Delta, and its territory includes seven seaside resorts. A lagoon town - known also as the small Venice - a maze of canals and bridges rising on 13 small islets in the north of the Comacchio lagoon. The economy, for thousands of years based on fishing and salt trade, has given way to a remarkable tourist development in the seven "Lidi" or seaside resorts, helped as well by the important Natural Park of the Po Delta.


  • Altitude: 2 m a.s.l
  • Population: about 22,000 inhabitants
  • Zip/postal code: 44022
  • Dialing Area Code: +39 0533
  • Patron Saint: St. Cassiano
  • Frazioni & Localities: Lido degli Estensi, Lido degli Scacchi, Lido di Pomposa, Lido di Spina, Porto Garibaldi, San Giuseppe, Lido delle Nazioni, Lido di Volano, Vaccolino, Volania
  • GPS Coordinates: 44.42 N - 12.11 E

History - Antiquity

In Roman times the town was situated along the main branch of the Po river, which was in the Middle Ages deviated to the north, and its history is closely connected to the changes in the water and land system of the area. Once very near to the sea, with the increasing silting of the delta the coastline moved to the east.

The earliest settlements are recorded in the 6th century BC, when the Etruscan founded the town of Spina, which was abandoned in the 3rd century BC. In Roman times the wetlands were partly drained and villas built in the reclaimed land areas. At the fall of the Western Roman Empire Comacchio came under the control of the Byzantine Exarchate of Ravenna until 751 AD, when the Lombards occupied the area.

History - the Middle Ages

Under the Lombards Comacchio was a fortified settlement, with a flourishing fish and salt trade, and appears as a "castrum" in a document of Liutprand, king of the Lombards from 712 to 744, regulating boat transit on the Po river. Charlemagne defeated the Lombards and donated the lagoons to the Church. Throughout the Middle Ages, Venice was a fierce competitor of Comacchio in the salt trade, and a long war ended with the destruction of Comacchio in 932 AD.

History - the Renaissance

After a slow reconstruction, Comacchio became first a free commune, then accepted the supremacy of the House of Este. In 1598, when the last member of the dynasty died heirless, Comaccio returned under the control of the Church state. The cardinals sent to rule the Valleys (as the wetlands were called) built the many stone bridges still extant today, opening the water connection to the sea.

History - Modern Times

Among the most famous events in the history of the area was the arrival of Giuseppe Garibaldi, who in 1849 after the defeat of the unitarian coalition in the Second War of Italian Independence landed at Magnavacca - renamed as Porto Garibaldi - with his mortally wounded, beloved wife Anita, who died here some days later. After the unity of Italy, large drainage projects took place, reclaiming land for agriculture and more recently for tourist development.

What to see

  • The many fine bridges of which Trepponti is the main example; built in 1638 by capucine Giovanni Pietro da Lugano on a project of Luca Danese of Ravenna, the bridge joins the navigable Pallotta canal to the town centre.
  • The Casa-Museo Remo Brindisi, at Lido di Spina, the summer mansion of the painter, a project by Nanda Vigo, donated in 1996 by the artist to the commune.
  • The Fortuna Maris museum, with exhibits of a Roman ship found at Valle Ponti, in 1981, with all its cargo.
  • The Valli di Comacchio, in the heart of the Po Delta Natural Park, salty wetlands rich of fish and bird species, with a Salina in the north east.
  • The Lido degli Estensi, with a magnificent, long and wide beach, a modern tourist port, a lively centre full of shops, sports and entertainment facilities.
  • The Pomposa Circuit, among the best go-kart, motorbike and mini-motorbike circuits in Italy.
  • The Lido delle Nazioni, taking its name from an artificial basin, with all the streets named after continents or countries, famous for the many pubs and discos in bathing establishments on the beach. In its territory is the house where Giuseppe and Anita Garibaldi stopped on 2 August 1849.
  • The Lido di Volano, with a wide seafront pinewood extending for 6 km from the small town to the sea and included in the Po di Volano Natural Reserve.
  • The Lido di Pomposa and Lido degli Scacchi, founded in the 1960's by entrepreneur Riccardo Rocca who set up an urban model for tourist development in the Riviera
  • The Lido di Spina the southernmost of the resorts of Comacchio, a residential area in the green of the pinewood between the lagoon and the sea.
  • Porto Garibaldi, the most ancient of the seven seaside settlements, with a lively fishing port, and a wealth of sea-food based restaurants and beach establishments.

Where to stay

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Surnames in the Provinces of Emilia-Romagna