Also known by the nickname of "Little Venice", Comacchio, in the province of Ferrara, is one of the most important and interesting centers of the Po delta area. It emerges between the blue of its lagoons, crossed by bridges of red brick, that connect one to each other the islands, the town is a mixture of ancient churches, small fishermen's houses and noble houses that all reflect in the waters of the canals, today a famous destination for boat and yacht trips.
There are various theories about the origins of its name: some historians believe that it derives from the Greek root "kuma" (wave), also attested by the early medieval word "cumaculum" (little wave), while according to a second interpretation, it derives from "commeatulus "(gathering of ships or humps, since, according to the local traditions, the town was built on 13 islands).
The first settlements date back to the VI century B.C., when the Etruscans founded the ancient city of Spina. The discovery of Roman villas in the valleys, reclaimed from the water, evidence that in the area there was a Roman colony. Recently, excavations have brought o the light, the remains of a Roman ship (Fortune Maris) of the Augustan age with its whole cargo. After the fall of the Roman Empire the town became part of the Exarchate of Ravenna, and later part of the Lombard Kingdom. The "Chapter of Liutprand" evidences the existence of a community in Comacchio since the VIII century, with its own autonomy. After the expulsion of the Lombards by Charlemagne, the area was subject to the Papal States, a period in which its sea mouth location developed with strong commercial ambitions: most of the stone bridges and major monuments, in fact, date from this period. In 1860 it was annexed by the Kingdom of Sardinia.
Sites of Interest:
- the Cathedral of San Cassiano, dating back to 1659 and built on the site of an ancient Romanesque church dating back to 708. It features a single nave plan with 12 side chapels, enriched by valuable paintings. Of particular note are the paintings of Biagio Bovi dating from the XVIII century, of the school of Bologna of Carracci, a wooden crucifix by Germano Cignani (XVII century), the choir, a gift of the Bishop of Arcano, which runs around the entire apse with a double set of stalls and the organ built in 1728 by Gian Domenico Traeri, located above the main door entrance. The cathedral is flanked by a Bell Tower built in 1751, demolished in 1757, leaving intact only its foundation in stone of Istria. The tower was rebuilt in 1868 after more than a century;
- the Sanctuary of Santa Maria in Aula Regia, also known as the Capuchin Church, is located at the West of the town. Although there are traces of the presence of the religious building which date back to the X century, the current form dates back to 1665;
- the Mariano Museum of Contemporary Sacred Art, where in addition to prints, on display are paintings by Arnaldo Pomodoro, Remo Brindisi and Aldo Bergonzoni;
- the charming Loggia dei Cappuccini: a sequence of 143 arches divided by columns, erected in 1647;
- the old Hospital, built in the XVIII century by Cosimo Morelli;
- the Bridge of the Sbirri (1631-35), located at the center of Comacchio, built almost entirely in brick, takes its name from the proximity to the prisons. It was built by the Cardinal Pallotta;
- Trepponti, emblem of the city, built in 1638 by Cardinal Pallotta. It consists of five large arch shaped staircases in Istrian stone, that connect the several islands to each other;
- Palazzo Bellini, built in the late XIX century as the residence of one of the most important families in the city. Today it houses the municipal offices, the public library and a historical archive;
- the Roman Ship Museum, housed in a complex of Palazzo Bellini, exposes the hull of the ancient ship of Augustus and the remains of its cargo (amphorae, lead ingots, ceramics, tiles and votive temples).