Best known for its wide beaches, the region eastwards from Venice has thousand faces and allows for as many experiences. Recently I discovered another aquatic side, its internal waters.
Concordia Sagittaria is a village on the river Lamene. An ancient Roman town risen on the riverbank of a river through which the goods where shared from the Adriatic Sea to Germany. It was an important and lively centre, and the traces of its ancient culture are still visible.
While taking a look at the façade, the gates and the apsis of the church overlooking the main square, I can hardly tell which detail I prefer. Beside the church a roof made of coloured umbrellas stands above the two interconnecting streets. The merry result cheers me immediately up and highlights the small white city hall.
Portogruaro welcomes us in a quite and elegant fashion. Through the gate in the ancient walls we arrive on the main road and gaze at the century-old buildings. Everything hints to a rich and glorious past.
In the wide square the statue of Saint Marcus’ lion wards the refined 16th century city hall. Behind it lies a smaller square and approaching it we can hear the pounding sound of the nearby river flowing under the mills.
The landscapes surrounding us are an unusual sight for us city dwellers. Only our boat’s engine is breaking the endless silence enveloping us. Daniele, our guide, tells us that discreet electric motors will soon replace these old ones, and then nature will have no competitors during its exhibition.
We are entering a new dimension, suspended in space and time. The land, conquered with great efforts through embankments and restoration, stretch almost endlessly over the horizon. Here and there a few farmsteads can be spotted while the cormorants dive in the air as soon as we get closer.
Some of this old buildings once hosted Ernest Hemingway. He would spend his free time hunting and fishing with locals, indulging at the same time in wine and women. His work “Across the River and Into the Trees” was supposedly inspired by these very sceneries and atmospheres.
Among the many natural treasures conceived by the vegetation, there are many edible herbs widely used in ancient recipes and now almost forgotten by most people.
The best way to roam around is probably by bike, which will allow you to reach also the public beach (even with your dog!). On our boat, instead, we reach Caorle. We cross the way with some fishermen and then we take a walk in the city centre among tight alleys and colourful houses.
If you want to put some distance between you and the sea you can also continue on the river Livenza and reach Ponte delle Catene, an old bridge still controlled by hand: it takes no less then four people to lift it and allow the boats to pass underneath.
Many are still the paths one might pass through, but for the moment we deem ourselves satisfied. On another river cruise, maybe, we will uncover even more fascinating wonders.