Romea Road

Ravenna – Comacchio – Abbazia di Pomposa – Mésola – Chioggia – Mestre (Weekend, km 158)



The highway 309 or Strada Romea, between Mestre and Ravenna, steep the path, or at least one of them, for which, sanchohino on the shoulders, wide-brimmed hat tied under the chin, bordone and bisaccia, went the “romei”, the pilgrims directed to Rome. But the itinerary does not follow these shadows; along the way – from south to north, from Ravenna to Mestre – the landscape impression is given by the alternation of reclaimed images and relics of the ‘humid environment’. The changes in the coastline can be considered in the cartography: Ravenna was between the lagoons and its Roman port and the fleet (“classis”) remains the memory in the toponym of Classe among the fields; in Etruscan times, for example, the Adriatic wave fell off on sandy dunes at a point halfway between Pomposa and Codigoro and where are now the houses of Taglio di Po; today the lighthouse of the Bocca del Po di Pila is 25 km plus an east, in contrast to the ‘valleys’ reflected the clouds in their waters, in times not remote, almost as many kilometers to the west of Comacchio. With the valleys of Comacchio and the delta padano, two fires of the landscape have been mentioned; the third is the Venetian Lagoon, another intermediate universe between sea and earth, ‘nature’ saved by the prudence of the Serenissima, a vibration of colors as changeable as the sky.


You leave Ravenna to the north on the state road 309, Strada Romea, which crosses the pine forest of S. Vitale. At Porto Garibaldi, turn left, inland, for the visit of Comacchio; from here a detour of 18 km on the road to Alfonsine along the Agosta bank. We then return to the coast and take the Romea for a short distance; then from the junction for San Giuseppe follow the Borgo Manara-Valle Bertuzzi-Lido di Volano-Volano-Pomposa abbey route. You are here again on the Strada Romea that you follow in a northerly direction, leaving it only for two detours: the first leads to the Gran Bosco della Mésola Nature Reserve (from a junction 7 km from Pomposa); the second reaches Ca ‘Tiepolo from Taglio di Po, with a 12 km route along the Po di Venezia. After the visit of Chioggia, continue along the Strada Romea, also in the stretch that ‘perimetra’ the Venetian Lagoon, up to Mestre.


Comacchio, once among ‘valleys’ of water, today rather between reclaimed land, intersected by canals, modest, yet of intense character; the singularity of the valley landscape is still well on the Agosta embankment, on the road to Alfonsine. Volano, a village on the Po di Volano, the mouth of which is a nature reserve. Pomposa Abbey **: the bell tower of the Mille marks the site, solitary in the vast plain; it is a suggestive monumental complex, one of the most famous in the Romanesque style. Bosco della Mésola Nature Reserve (see Pomposa, abbey), remains of an Estense hunting estate, nature reserve; it is only partially visited on foot or by bicycle. Mésola (see Pomposa, abbey), 16th century Estense hunting lodge. Ca ‘Tiepolo (see Porto Tolle): the town, on the island of Donzella, is the seat of the municipality of Porto Tolle; you can reach it along the Po di Venezia, discovering the universe of unlimited spaces and varied waters of the Delta. Chioggia *, a city in the southern corner of the Venetian Lagoon, with houses, streets, canals, colors and sounds of a popular, Goldonian Venice. La Malcontenta (see Riviera del Brenta) or Villa Foscari, by Andrea Palladio, is a few hundred meters from the Strada Romea (on the right, at the junction for Fusina). Mestre: the Ferretto square, the Duomo, the Clock tower, some other ancient fragment reveal that the city is not only the controversial industrial appendix of Venice and the anonymous residential neighborhood of those who abandoned it.



Summer 1849: Garibaldi had left Rome, no longer defensible, with four thousand men, on July 3 “to keep the revolution alive wherever it could” (Denis Mack Smith). It was no longer a time for revolution and the retreat was disastrous: on 31 July he had sent his men to San Marino; with a couple of hundred companions, crossing the Austrian lines, he had boarded in Cesenatico, hoping to reach Venice. The thirteen Garibaldi boats were sighted on the moonlit night by an Austrian ship; only three had escaped taking land in Magnavacca, today Porto Garibaldi, the thirty that occupied them were dispersed. The companion of Garibaldi, Anita, who had reached his man in Rome and had always followed him, five months pregnant, soon fevered probably of malaria, died the day after the landing, the afternoon of 4 August, while they carried her towards the read up the steps of the vaccheria of the Marquis Guiccioli, one of the scattered farms that formed the village of Mandriole. The Capanno Garibaldi, in the pine forest of S. Vitale, repeats, rebuilt after a fire that destroyed it in 1911, the one in which the fugitive remained hidden the night between 6 and 7 August. The Ravenna underground revolutionary network then led him safely to boarding at Cala Martina in the Gulf of Follonica on 2 September.