A journey to discover the hinterland – Through the lens of Elisa Silvia Rambelli
What seaside resort can offer, less than thirty kilometres from the sea, wonderful towns rich in history and tradition? If you are visiting our web portal, you will already have understood that the answer is obviously Caorle. Today we would like to take you on a trip inland from Caorle to get to know two of the most important towns in Eastern Venice: Portogruaro and the ancient Roman town of Concordia Sagittaria. Together with Elisa Silvia Rambelli, an extraordinarily talented photographer, we enjoy the beauty of the Eastern Veneto through her shots.
About 28 kilometres from Caorle, on the banks of the River Lemene, lies Portogruaro. Its foundation dates back to 1140 and it is the river that has characterised the history of the city, thanks to the port that became an important stop on the trade route to Venice. Walking in the centre of Portogruaro you can stop to admire one of the most beautiful views of the town: we are talking about the “Molini di Sant’Andrea”. Located right in the middle of the river bed, the two brick buildings, almost symmetrical, watch over the watercourse and with their wheels, driven by the incessant force of the current, create sounds that inspire peace and serenity. In this little corner of paradise, the shots are really suggestive, thanks to the play of light reflecting on the water. The origins of the Molini date back to the Middle Ages, but over the years the two buildings have undergone numerous restorations that have brought them to their current appearance. Today they house an interesting Contemporary Art Gallery. Behind this green-water oasis lies the charming centre, rich in historical monuments: one of the city’s landmarks is the Palazzo Municipale (Town Hall), which dominates Piazza della Repubblica. Built in Gothic style, with exposed bricks and Ghibelline merlons, the imposing town hall is a reminder of the richness of the city of Portogruaro over the centuries and dominations: first it was an important part of the Serenissima Republic of Venice and then, with the Treaty of Campoformio (1797) it was ceded by Napoleon to the Habsburg Empire before becoming part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1866. Also in this beautiful square and right next to the Town Hall is the Pilacorte well (1494) guarded by the two bronze cranes that mark the city. Our journey at this point cannot be separated from Elisa’s beautiful shots, in colour and black and white, which show us, from different angles, these two important monuments, which, moreover, are just a few metres away from the war memorial, built in the 1920s to commemorate the people of Portogruaro who died in the First World War. This statue, consisting of a horse and rider, reinterprets, in a modern key, the tradition of the ancient Scaliger simulacra. Elisa’s photographs lead us to the small square where the Duomo di Sant’Andrea, the most important sacred place in the city, is located. The church contains interesting Venetian paintings from the 16th to 18th centuries, including the ‘Madonna delle Grazie’ by Pietro Damini (1612-1631). Next to the cathedral stands the bell tower, which follows the pattern of Romanesque towers. Curiosity: The bell tower is the result of a series of elevations that brought it to a height of almost 60 metres, but over the years, the tower has become increasingly inclined, raising serious doubts about its stability. Various interventions have been carried out to consolidate the structure which today, perhaps also because of its unusual slope, offers the opportunity for certainly special shots, such as those of Elisa. Another marvellous walk that the town offers is along Via Roma, the main artery that will take you to discover the historical centre of Portogruaro. It is a short street, once called Via dei Molini, which joins the two banks of the Lemene river. Along this street are some of the city’s main buildings, including the Villa Comunale, once known as Palazzo Marzotto. Inside this building is the Parco della Pace (Peace Park), another oasis of tranquillity in Portogruaro and an ideal place for anyone keen on photography. Portogruaro, once surrounded by walls and moats, still has three ancient gates to the historic centre, Porta San Giovanni (dating back to the 12th century), Porta San Gottardo (mid-12th century), which closes Via dei Martiri and also preserves a short stretch of the ancient city walls, and finally Porta Sant’Agnese, which, more than the others, has retained the Gothic features typical of the 13th century. The tower guarding the gate now houses the City Museum.
About 2 kilometres from Portogruaro is a town whose history is rooted in ancient Roman rule. It was founded in 42 B.C. between two important trade routes, the Via Annia and the Via Postumia, and the River Lemene, a fundamental waterway for reaching Caorle and the Adriatic. There are several remains from the Roman and early Christian periods in the town, which is why it is so popular with history buffs. Archaeological excavations, which began at the end of the 1800s and continued into the last century, brought to light an ancient bridge dating from the 2nd or 3rd century AD and the theatre. Then the forum and the arrow factory were discovered, from which Concordia Sagittaria derives its name. In Via dei Pozzi Romani, on the left bank of the Lemene river, a large burial ground was discovered, consisting of over 260 sarcophagi of soldiers of the late ancient age. The finds are kept in the Museo Nazionale Concordiese in Via del Seminario in Portogruaro. Those who love history will not fail to visit the area located near the ancient Cathedral of Concordia. Here, in fact, during a series of excavations carried out between 1950 and 1970, two well-preserved pagan tombs composed of three niches were discovered. Not far away, there are also the remains of the ‘Trichora Martyrium’, a building with three apses built around 350 A.D. to celebrate the Christian martyrs of Concord killed during the persecutions of Emperor Diocletian. The area is however dominated by the Cathedral of Santo Stefano, built around the middle of the 10th century, which is one of the most interesting places of worship in the eastern Veneto region. Inside the cathedral there are finds of extraordinary value, such as the holy water stoup in Greek marble dating back to the 1st century AD.) Behind the Cathedral stands another monument of great value, the Baptistery with its bell tower. It was commissioned by Bishop Regimpoto, whose tomb is preserved inside the building. The architectural style has significant links with the Byzantine-Ravenna style, while the interior features biblical frescoes of great value. Before leaving Concordia, however, a look at the remains of the Basilica Apostolorum Maior, which ‘rests’ under the Cathedral, is a must. This ancient basilica was built to house the precious relics of Saints John the Evangelist, John the Baptist, Andrew, Thomas and Luke.
What we have told you about, and what Elisa has shown you, is just a taste of all that is beautiful in these two locations, pearls of the Veneto hinterland. If, therefore, you are on holiday in Caorle, you can satisfy not only your desire for sun and sea, but also for culture and history.