The destinies of the ports of the Adriatic Riviera have always been tied to the sea. There are many places on the coast of Emilia-Romagna that still nurture an authentic seafaring tradition, thanks to the work of fishermen, but also to the presence of museums and places that tell the ancient stories of the sea.
Porto Garibaldi and Comacchio, little Venice
Situated on the northernmost stretch of the Riviera, Porto Garibaldi is a small town in the province of Ferrara. Born as a fishing village, today the town includes a residential area of small houses built along the navigable canal that links nearby Comacchio to the sea.
Here the boats still set sail in search of fresh seafood, which is then sold to the local market and served in the restaurants in the area. In June, the sea is celebrated with the procession of boats during the Festa della Madonna del Mare [Feast of Our Lady of the Sea].
With its network of canals, the history of “Little Venice”, or Comacchio, is closely linked to that of the waters flow that through it. Two buildings in the historic town centre are proof of this link: the ancient Fish Market, dating from the seventeenth century, and the Manifattura dei Marinati, a factory-museum where the processing of eel takes place even today.
Cervia, the city of salt
Cervia, the charm of the salt pans coloured by the sunset. In Cervia everything revolves around the production of salt, an activity that has been going on for thousands of years. In the centre of the town, around the canal port, we find the Ancient Fish Market with its original marble countertops, the Salt Museum inside the Salt Warehouse and the Fishermen’s Club with its restaurant, where you can enjoy a plate of delicious fish, fresh from the Adriatic.
A great way to discover the history of this seaside town in the province of Ravenna, by exploring its salt pan and the greenery of its pinewoods, is a visit to the Cervia Salt Pans Park.
Cesenatico and its Canal Port designed by Leonardo da Vinci
In Cesenatico, too, life takes place along the canal port. The waterway is home to the colourful historic sailing boats of the Maritime Museum, a place that conserves the memory of the port designed by Leonardo da Vinci and its relationship with the city.
The Old Fish Market, still active today, is just a few steps from the Piazzetta delle Conserve, where the fish was stored inside the icehouse carved into the ground. Another reference to the work of the fishermen is the statue of the Spose dei Marinai [Sailors’ Brides], located on the west pier in memory of the wives who waited for their men to return from their fishing trips.
The Rimini fish market
Rimini is home to the largest fish market in Emilia-Romagna, with more than 60 stalls selling their wares in the Covered Market, located in the historic city centre. In the hustle and bustle, you can buy fresh fish brought in daily by the fishing boats.
Among the boats that sail at night in search of clams, cuttlefish, sea snails and eels, there are also those from the small harbour of Bellaria-Igea Marina, a summer holiday destination just a short distance from Rimini.
Clams, mackerel, sardines and anchovies in Cattolica
Heading towards the extreme south of the Romagna Riviera, we encounter Cattolica, a seaside town with ancient fishing traditions. This elegant town has a large fishing fleet, which is used to fish white fish and oily fish, such as mackerel, sardines and anchovies, as well as clams. For lovers of deep-sea fishing, in summer, it is possible to embark with Cattolica’s fishermen for an authentic mackerel fishing experience.