3 km from the northern coast of Emilia-Romagna in the Po Delta, 50 km from Ferrara, 35 km from Ravenna, 110 km from Venice.
Comacchio, the "little Venice", is an enchanting lagoon town: it's neat and unfeigned, endowed with a vitality that comes from a strong respect for its own history and for the environment that surrounds it. The limpid brightness of the light reminds us that we are close to the sea here, and this light goes on to flood the town, only to be increased by the calm surfaces of the canals. A treasure chest of particular natural beauty and reminders of its history, Comacchio, now known as the capital of the Po Delta Park, is a little town that was born and still lives between the land and the water.
Its seven beaches are an ideal destination for spending a holiday with family or friends, or for a relaxing weekend resting in the sun or partying through the lively lido nights.
The best period for visiting Comacchio runs from April to mid-October. In particular, for those who love the tastes of the sea, the first two weekends of October host a food festival based on the eel, with tastings and shows in the street.
The best views in town are from the Ponte degli Sbirri: on one side the historic Ospedale degli Infermi and on the other the 19th century Palazzo Bellini and the famous Trepponti, the symbol of Comacchio.
From the Loggiato dei Cappuccini, which leads to the church of Santa Maria in Aula Regia, you can access the historic Manifattura dei Marinati, the pickling works, completely restored into full working order; visit the “Sala dei fuochi” with its 12 stoves, where the eels are roasted on spits before being marinated. The graceful 17th century Fish Market attests to more seaborne activity, and it still sells the daily catch.
Important historic buildings also include the ancient Cathedral of San Cassiano, the Loggia del Grano, and the Clock Tower.
For lovers of archaeology, in Antico Ospedale degli Infermi is the new Ancient Delta Museum, which illustrates the centuries-long evolution of the area and of the human settlements typical of the ancient Po Delta and houses the entire cargo of a Roman ship discovered near Comacchio.
In the late afternoon, when the sunset paints extraordinary colours, the nature reserve of the Comacchio lagoons - south of the old town - is a fascinating environment. A trip into history by motorboat allows you to feel the atmosphere of the lagoon with its 'casoni' (fishing huts) and 'tabarre' (stores/workshops), the fishing equipment, and marvellous vegetation. Bird watching is a particularly attractive activity here.
You mustn't leave without having walked along the loggia, the Loggiato dei Cappuccini, the longest in Italy, or without making a trip by boat or bike into the Comacchio lagoon.
This town on the water can also be visited by boat, more specifically with the traditional “batane”: a free service is offered by volunteers whose moorings are around the Trepponti.
The eel rules the table in Comacchio, and it is cooked in a thousand ways. Antipasti made with cappe sante (scallops), canocchie (mantis shrimp) and vongole (small clams) are delicious; for first courses try fisherman's risotto or spaghetti with crabs or different kinds of prawns. The climax to your meal should be an exquisite mixed grilled seafood plate with eels and polenta along with sole, mullet, brill, bream or stuffed squid - everything washed down with the excellent local DOC wine, Bosco Eliceo. Comacchio features on the “Via del Delta” (delta road), part of the Strada dei Vini e dei Sapori gastronomic trail.
The Ferrara coast has plenty of places for 'happy hour', for after dinner drinks and discos, and let's not forget its many rendezvous for evening entertainment.
There are numerous opportunities for sports in the well equipped beach stations of the Lidi, from swimming classes to windsurfing, from beach tennis to beach volleyball. For cycling enthusiasts, the Po Delta Park offers numerous excursions deep into the natural environment, on public roads, cycle paths and dirt tracks.
The International Bird watching Fair in May focuses on the rich environment of the Po Delta; international fashion designers show their new collections and ideas in the Sfilata d’Amore e Moda fashion show at the beginning of the summer; the Sagra dell’Anguilla - the food festival centred on the eel at the beginning of October - has many food stalls and themed restaurant circuits.
The Po Delta Park envelops Comacchio with its woods and lagoons: just outside the town are the Comacchio Lagoons themselves, which can be visited by bike or boat; to the north, Valle Bertuzzi (10 km) offers splendid landscapes at dusk, while the woodlands at Mesola and Santa Giustina (20 km) are ideal for a cool evening walk among the green leaves after a day on the beach.
In the UNESCO World Heritage City of Ferrara (50 km) you can visit the Este's castle, walk though its charming narrow mediaeval streets, or take a bike ride round the imposing Renaissance walls.
Also a short distance away is Ravenna (35 km) with its splendid mosaics.