Flavors of the sea among ports, people and traditions
Deep in the heart of the Riviera, that stretch of land that plays host to ports, lighthouses, fishing boats, and ferries, you can still live out the experiences that only authentic places can give a person.
Among these places Porto Garibaldi, near Ferrara, must surely be included as it is one of the most important fishing centers of the Northern Adriatic, a melting pot of cultures and traditions. This teeming port built around its fascinating lighthouse offers a spectacle of old fashioned hustle and bustle while the commercial side of maritime life comes alive at the fish market where they still sell fish at auction, using the “touch” method.
Also noteworthy is Comacchio, “little Venice”, a city with unique features, with the Antica Pescheria (Antique Fishery), a very beautiful building from the 17th century, today the site of the daily fish market, and the Manufattura dei Marinati (Pickling Factory). Perfectly restored and currently in use, in the “Fire Room” twelve fireplaces are still used to spit roast eels, before being marinated. When the sun lights up the sky in an extraordinary sunset, a historic nature tour between land and water will allow you to appreciate the rhythms of this city’s marshes, as you pass by wooden fishing huts, “tabarre” (buildings used for storing and repairing fishing equipment) and incredible vegetation where many people enjoy bird watching.
If there is one place along the Adriatic Coast where the smell of the sea mixes with that of salt, and the charm of a canal port is intimately entwined with the buildings connected to the commercialization of this “white gold”, it is Cervia.
The ancient traditions of this city, in fact, are based on its salt flats, its fortune. Immersed in an age-old pine forest, today Cervia is proud of its history and of its marine vitality: the very beautiful Antica Pescheria (Antique Fishery) with its original marble stands, the famous Museo del Sale (Salt Museum), houses, the piazzale dei Salinari (Saltworks Piazza), with its 16th and 17th century Magazzini del sale (Salt Warehouses), the Circolo dei Pescatori (Fishermen’s Circle) where one can experience the antique restaurants of the port, and of course the fishermen who sell their daily catch at the market stands or directly from their boats along the port canal, keeping the antique marine life and traditions alive.
In Cesenatico, the ancient sailboats of the Museo della Marineria (Maritime Museum) are moored right next to modern fishing boats which, with their comings and goings, give a certain tempo to the Port Canal designed by Leonardo; on its wharfs everyday life is carried out. The old Fishery, still in use today, is just a few steps away from the “Piazzetta delle Conserve” where fish was stored in typical ancient storage “sheds” dug out of the ground. Daily life is still mostly lived out along the docks and is still intertwined with the presence and reminders of maritime work gone by, a memento of which remains, along the west wharf. There is a statue of “La Mà” (the Mother), who along with her children searches the horizon while waiting for her husband to return from fishing on his boat, which she could recognize from the colors of the sail.
A fairly large flotilla of fishing boats, which late at night sail off for the usual fishing run, is moored in the small port of Bellaria Igea Marina. With innovative new techniques, here trawl fishing and clam fishing are done, as well as fishing with nets and gill nets, and even lobster pots are used to catch squid, as well as cover pots for sea slugs, or Fyke nets or “bertovelli” (Fyke nets without a leader) for eels. At the first light of dawn, fresh fish can be bought at retail price at the stands along the wharf.
The huge fish market in Rimini, in the historic center of the city, with its stands packed with products, display the catches which mirror the well served flotilla of motor fishing boats moored in the Adriatic Sea, also in the deep sea, and the fresh fish is available at a good price, every morning from Monday to Saturday.
Not much farther south, in Cattolica, a maritime city with old fishing traditions, besides white fish, mostly sold on the local market, there is also blue fish, sold also on the foreign market. For more than forty years, the maritime life in Cattolica has developed an outstanding vocation for clam fishing, developing an important flotilla, and even today the artisan craft of repairing nets still takes place along the wharf. For deep sea fishing fans, in the summer there are many outings available on outfitted boats, for tuna or mackerel fishing. Pulling up the nets with the fishermen, one can have the unique experience if taking the fish directly out of the nets and tasting the products of the Adriatic on board with a good local wine.