Veneto Itineraries
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The northeastern part of the province of Venice has so much to offer that it requires a highly detailed itinerary. Both local inhabitants and visitors can explore the area's many artistic riches.

We suggest beginning the visit in Portogruaro, which can easily be reached both by the A4 motorway and 14 road, northeast of Treviso. A glance at the map reveals that its geographical location lends a role as the communication center for the surrounding area. It is the natural starting point for a tour of: Annone, Veneto, Fossalta, Concordia Saggitaria and Pramaggiore, which area all well connected by road within a few kilometers of each other. This itinerary takes us through a very interesting area. Unfortunately nowadays the importance of grasping the way of life in local streets, squares and buildings is often neglected, as are the shape of the towns and the traces left by the past which bear witness to the passing centuries and to different cultures.


Portogruaro


Historic Events

Both the origin of the city and its name are still subject of controversy. The first known official document goes back to 1140: The Bishop of Concordia, Gervino, granted land to some merchants who wished to construct a portus - a warehouse or storage area for foreign trading. Thanks to its favorable position on the Lemene River, these export and import activities meant that by the 13th century Portogruaro was already an important trading center. After freeing itself from the administrative hold of the Bishop of Concordia it was able to organize itself with consuls, a council and assembly under the temporal protection of the Patriarch of Aquileia. This state of affairs lasted until 1420 when Venice annexed the whole territory. Under Venetian dominion, Portogruaro grew and many bridges, houses, streets and palaces were built. They reflect the essential agricultural and trading interests of the inhabitants.

Portogruaro reached the height of its splendor during the 15th and 16th centuries. Its decline as a trading center was due to competition from Trieste as a port for goods going to Germany. After the fall of Venice, new provincial borders were established by Napoleon and Portogruaro was assigned to Friuli. After the Treaty of Campo Formio, signed by the French and the Austrians in 1798, it was included in the Province of Venice, and in 1835 it assumed the status of a city.

Amidst fluctuating fortunes, Portogruaro remained part of Austria until 1866. But economic conditions were fairly stagnant and its river trade began to decline. The latter ceased completely when the Venice-Portogruaro railway was opened in 1886. The main productive activity left was agriculture. Although practiced in a rather primitive fashion because of a lack of means, by the beginning of the twentieth century some industrial and commercial innovations were being made. Since the Second World War, Portogruaro's socio-economic conditions have improved steadily.


Traces of the Past

The most striking features of Portogruaro are its Medieaval typology - signs of a feudal past - and the presence of palaces from the Venetian period. Its walls and colonnades encouraged trade and social exchanges as did its important position between the rivers Reghena and Lemene.

The city is entered through the 13th-century Porta di San Giovanni, formerly known as the "gate of the band" or the "gate of San Lazzaro" because of a nearby hospice for lepers. The gate was rebuilt in the mid 16th century (1555-56). Beyond it lies the 14th-century Church of San Giovanni, which deserves a close look. It has a valuable Madonna with Child (15th century) and an altarpiece by Leandro da Ponte (16th century) and a frescoed ceiling by Jandrea Urbani (18th century).

Inside the city, the main thorough-fare, Corso Martiri, leads to Piazza della Repubblica with its 14th-century Town Hall (1372-1380). This brick Gothic building has sloping crenellated roofs, and a high-angled outside stairway and a small domed bell-tower. In 1512, Giovanni Baffo added two impressive wings to the building. At the foot of this typical communal town hall six 16th-century marble blocks can be seen. Known as the Testoni, they depict six heads (testa is Italian for head) in Istrian stone and may well have been the foundations of a bridge.

Alongside the Town Hall is the Pozzetto, a well whose head was built by Giovanni Antonio Pilacorte (1494). It is also known as the Pozzetto delle Gru (The Well of the Cranes). Cranes became an emblem of Portogruaro. There is a collection of them, which was sculpted by the Portogruaro artist Valentino Truchetto (1906-1965). Behind the Town hall stands the Pescheria (Fish Market). The loggia and small oratory were both built by Carole Fishermaen - clear evidence of the city's history as a port.

Next we come to one of the most typical and picturesque parts of Portogruaro, the Mulini. Standing over the river Lemene, these mills were built by Bishop Antonio Felotti in 1477 and restored in 1980-81.

The Duomo di Sant'Andrea was built on the site of a 12th-century church. It houses a number of 16th- and 17th-century works of various artists: an anonymous Venetian, Gregorio Lazzarini, the School of Palma Giovane, Giovanni Martini, Pampanio Amalteo, Pietro Damiani and Stefano Dall'Arzere. Outside is a fine leaning Romanesque Belltower.

After visiting the cathedral it is worth wandering the streets to savor the atmosphere in the preserved center of town with its elegant palaces and mixture of Gothic and Renaissance architecture. In addition to the usual medieval structures typical of Veneto cities there is also a strong Venetian influence. This can be seen in the fine frescoed façades and in the whole structure of the historic center with its long arcades whose arches, unlike other Venetian towns, are sharply angled. Going along Via Martiri, on the left-hand side we may admire three Palaces - Muschietti, Moreo and Delle Imposte (16th century). They are a harmonious combination of Gothic and Renaissance elements. On the right is a 16th-century house, embellished with cipolin columns and Romanesque-Byzantine capitals. Further down on the left stands one of the finest palaces in Portogruaro: Palazzo De Gotzen (15th-16th century), with its three Gothic arches and two orders of windows in various styles. Palazzo Dal Moro (14th-15th century) is a similar kind of building whose façade is enhanced by a three-light window and a two-light window along with terracotta work and sculptures. At the Porta San Gottardo, in addition to the 15th-century reconstruction of an even older gate, known as the gate of San Francesco, a 20-meter stretch of the city walls may also be admired.

The Villa Comunale, built in the 16th century by Guglielmo di Alzano, is an elegant Renaissance-style building with a three-arched stone-columned porch, a large corner balcony and an open loggia. Alongside these structures sits the Oratory of Sant'Ignazio (1682) and opposite the latter, Palazzo Marzotto (16th century), an interesting building with frescoes of mythological scenes. The nearby Palazzo Venanzio (16th century) is in Renaissance style while the Church of San Luigi (12th century) has some fresco fragments and walls dating back before the 11th century. A visit to Via Cavour is also rewarding: the careful observer will note and admire how the impressive Gothic style of the arcades blends remarkably well with the Renaissance upper floors of the buildings along this street.

L
astly we suggest visiting the oldest gate in the city, Porta di San Agnese, which now stands outside the present city walls along with some of the former wall and even a small tower. Also not to be missed is the Church of Sant'Agnese (15th century), which has a fine terracotta Pieta and traces of 16th-century frescoes on the façade. After having seen so many architectural and artistic sights which attest to the city's rich heritage a visit to the National Archaeologiacal Museum is a must. The museum houses local finds from Roman and Early Christian times, especially from the nearby Roman city of Concordia.
Only four kilometers from Portogruaro the old and picturesque Abbey of Summaga (early 11th century) is also well worth a visit. The church itself has a Basilica plan with a nave and two aisles and apse. It contains precious 11 th- and 12 th-century frescos depicting the Redemption, Eve, Abraham, the Crucifixion, Christ on the Throne and prophetic, evangelical and biblical scenes. The (16th-century) exterior also includes various fragments from Roman and early medieval times.


The Countryside

Cultural Events and Folk Traditions
February: CARNIVALE
July/August: GOLDONI FESTIVAL IN THE VILLA COMUNALE
July: CONCERT BY THE ORCHESTRA OF THE FENICE
July: MODERN BALLET FESTIVAL
November: SERIES OF CONCERTS ORGANIZED IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE ST. CECILIA MUSIC ASSOCIATION

National Concordia Museum in Portogruaro
Open Tuesday-Sunday 9am-2 pm, closed on Mondays


Restaurants

Alla Botte
Tel: 0421 72564
Closed On Fridays

Alla Lanterna
Tel: 0421 704775
Closed On Mondays

Antico Spessotto
Tel: 0421 71040

Romantino
Tel: 0421 71391
Closed On Tuesdays

Tavernetta Dei Tocai
Tel: 0421 701 280
Closed On Mondays

Tavernetta Trieste
Tel: 0421 731 55
Closed On Tuesdays

Vecchio Pilsen
Tel: 0421 71050
Closed On Mondays


Trattorias

Ai Ciclisti
Tel: 0421 71244
Closed On Mondays

Al Tre Scalini
Tel: 0421 71318
Closed On Tuesdays

Alla Colomba
Tel: 0421 71549
Closed On Sundays

Alla Dogana
Tel: 0421 714113
Closed On Fridays

Alle Gru
Tel: 0421 71732
Closed On Tuesdays

Al Ponte
Tel: 0421 71362
Closed On Sundays

Celio
Tel: 0421 72650
Closed On Tuesdays

Da Valentino
Tel: 0421 72993
Closed On Wednesdays

Leone
Tel: 0421 702189
Closed On Mondays

Muratotto
Tel: 0421 704626
Closed On Mondays

Nadali
Tel: 0421 72417
Closed On Saturdays

Querin
Tel: 0421 71322
Closed On Saturdays



Concordia Sagittaria


Founded in 42 B.C. by a Roman Vicus from the Augustan age, Julia Concordia was an important station along the Via Annia. It became a border settlement and therefore a military outpost, trading emporium and a center for Roman culture to flourish in their dealings with the Germanic races. It reached its height in the second century AD, both because it was an important crossroad and for its production of weapons and arrows (saggitae), which bore the towns' name, Sagittaria. Given its strategic position and military importance, it was often sacked and destroyed. It did manage to rise again to further splendor. In the 6th century it became the Episcopal See of the Patriarch of Aquileia, and followed its fortunes in the middle Ages. Once the Episcopal See was transferred to Portogruaro, its decline was ineluctable both under the Republic of Venice and the Napoleonic occupation.


Traces of the Past

The special attraction of a visit to Concordia Sagittaria lies in exploring traces of antiquity which date back to Roman and early Christian times. The most obvious signs of the past are the early Christian buildings (400-500 AD), which include burial sites with sarcophagi and excavations in front of the cathedral. The Cathedral itself (1446) is mainly late Gothic but includes a number of alterations and additions such as the apse and the façade. The present sumptuous Cathedral was built over the mosaic flooring of the ancient Basilica Apostolorum. Under the present flooring of the church are two fonts, one made of a second-century Roman capital. The Baptistery is an elegant small Romanesque building (9th-12th century) built to a Greek plan. It is made up of a central square, above which is a round tambour with a single opening. The interior of the Baptistery is decorated with frescoes from the period. The Renaissance-Gothic Cathedral Belltower (9th-12th century) is a fine example of its kind. The Renaissance-Style Palazzo Municipale and the Gothic Casa Canonica are of architectural interest.

After seeing the historical and artistic riches of the early Christian sites, the visitor can wander round the excavations and the remains of Concordia Sagittaria's glorious historic Roman past: villas, wells, a theatre and bridge all date back to the second century AD and are well worth seeing. There are many important remains of public and private buildings often with mosaic paving as well as burial grounds dating back to the early Middle Ages.

To form a more complete picture of Concordia Saggitaria and its archaeological importance (which has made it one of the most charming tourist attractions in the province of Venice), a visit must be made to the Civic Museum. Along with the National Concordia Museum in Portogruaro, it has an extraordinary collection of architectural fragments, statues, funeral shrines, inscriptions and bronze statues. Among the finest examples of the latter are a boar and Diana the Huntress. Entrance to both museums is free of charge, and guided visits can be arranged in advance.


Civic Museum
Open Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays 9:30am-12:30pm, and Saturdays 4-7pm



Fossalta Di Portogruaro


Historic Events

Archaeological evidence suggests that there was probably a Roman settlement at Fossalta. Fragments of an aqueduct, as well as coins and pieces of necklaces, have all even found. Fossalta's fortunes, however, were closely linked to those of the Diocese of Concordia Sagittaria. In 996, the latter was granted various lands from Emperor Otto III, including Fossalta whose name (fossa fossatum) presumably meant that there were various defensive moats set up in the area against barbaric invasions. In the 17th century, under the dominion of the "Serenissima Venetian Republic" the "lower" region was reunited under the administration of Cartovado in an area denominated "the marshes of Sindical." Although little is known of the civil administration of Fossalta, there is a good deal of documentation of the religious affairs of the "Villa." This is to be found in the parish records, well-preserved 15th-century parchments, and in the Register of the Castello di Fratta, a copy of another 15th-century document.


Traces of the Past

The church of San Zenone has a number of interesting features: the sacristy bench by Pietro Squadro (1685), the two altarpieces for the confraternities of San Biagio and the Santi Rosario, executed by Nicolo Bambini (early 18th century); the works by Giuseppe Casattini (1625-1699) and an altarpiece depicting a Madonna with child by Antonio Carneo (1637-1692). In the sacristy there is also a fine "Holy Family" by an anonymous artist, although certainly from the Udine School of Pietro Liberi, and two works by Osvaldo Gortamentti from Carnia: "The Last Supper" and "The Adoration of the Magi."

Of interest among the neighboring villages to Fossalta is Fratta, celebrated in Ippolito Nievo's novel Confessions of an Italian. The 11th-century castle was built by the bishops of Concordia Sagittaria and the tenure was given to the Fratta Family. Destroyed and rebuilt a number of times, it was only finally demolished in 1798 by Count Euginio di Valvason. The church in Fratta was built in the early 16th century, but little remains of the original. It houses a painting entitled "Madonna with Child and Saints" and the main altarpiece is of the same subject.

The neighboring Gorgo is worth visiting for its 16th-century church, whose original Gothic Romanesque architecture has been preserved intact. It has a number of frescoes attributed to Tiussi.

And why not stop off at Alvisopoli? This utopian estate was once rather famous, and was known as "the land of Mills." Founded at the beginning of the last century by Count Alvise Mocenigo it became the center of a vast area of reclaimed land and included the owner's villa, farm workers' houses, farm buildings and even a large printers workshop. In 1811, it was here that the poem by Vincenzo Monti, Panacridi Bees in Alvispoli, was printed. The Neo-classic Villa Mocenigo and its grounds have been intelligently restored. The small church of San Luigi was the work of a number of artists close to Canova, and it houses several works that the Mocenigos brought there from other possessions.


The Countryside

The typical flat countryside of the northeastern part of the Province of Venice stretching between the rivers Livenza and Tagliamento is very suitable for farming. The main products are quality wines, maize and wheat, as well as the output from the flourishing firm, Zignago S. Margherita.

There are many interesting natural features, especially along the banks of the Lugugana, which passes through the area before flowing down to the Lagoon of Bibione. This is a quiet and fertile countryside, which creates a sense of well being in the visitor. One of nature's more unusual offerings is the old oak at Villanova. Known as the "rari", its trunk has a hole in it and it winds round itself: a rare example of a quercus robur.



Pramaggiore


One town which certainly cannot be left out of a visit to the Portogruaro area is Pramaggiore, famous for its high-quality wines and prestigious Wine Fair.


Historic Events

Pramaggiore probably dates back to Roman times as a vicus of Concordia Sagittaria. It is first mentioned in the earliest documents, however, in 1225 as depending on the Patriarch of Aquileia. Actually, the nearby villages of Salvarolo and Blessaglia, now under its communal administration, would seem to be older than Pramaggiore. They depended on the wealthy Abbey of Sesto al Regliena in Friuli, built by Benedictines on land granted to them by the Longobards in the mid-eighth century. The name "Pramaggiore," meaning large meadow, is probably a reference to the extensive pastureland surrounded by a thick wood, part of the estates of the Blessaglia and Salvarolo families until 1420 when their possessions passed to the Venetian Republic.

Under Austrian rule, Pramaggiore, which was formerly part of the Friuli district, was united with the Province of Venice and given the status of "Commune" in 1806.


Traces of the Past

Although Pramaggiore now owes its international fame to the exceptional high quality of its wines, visitors to the area should not neglect its historic monuments and works of art. The first stop has to be the Renaissance church of San Marco in Pramaggiore. A little further on in Salvarolo, the Church of Santa Maria Assunta immediately catches the eye. A little more out of the way is the fine 17th-century church of Santa Susanna at Belfiore where there is also a 16th-century mill. Lastly, the splendors of the local villas demand a visit: Villas Collavina, Muschietti and Morasutto (formerly Villa Atlan).


Eating Out

Pramaggiore has an enviable reputation as far as wines are concerned. Indeed it is difficult to choose between its many wines because each has its own exceptionally high quality. The Pramaggiore Wine Tasting Fair gives visitors the chance to try out such prestigious wines as Merlot and Cabernet - classic red wines from the eastern Veneto. Wine tasting is found in a number of places. Whether sipped alone for their fine dry flavor or accompanied with traditional Venetian dishes, they will not disappoint you.


Annone Veneto


Historic Events

Annone Veneto grew out of the ancient town Ad Nonum, a vicus at the ninth mile on the road from Concordia Sagittaria to Opitergium (Oderzo). The name is thus easily explained in that intermediary stations were created along the great Roman roads, and Annone Veneto was obviously one of them.

After initially belonging to the Duchy of Forojuiliense, it became part of the estate of the Benedictine Abbey of Sesto al Regliena. At the behest of Emperor Otto I it was then given to the Patriarch of Aquileia. It remained under the jurisdiction of the latter until 1429, when it became part of the dominion of Venice. Like the rest of the area at that time, Annone Veneto had plentiful woods, which the Venetians used for timber and to build ships.


Traces of the Past

Annone is another town with a number of interesting works of art. Now at the end of our itinerary, it is time to reflect on all the art in the eastern part of the Province of Venice, and the Church of San Vitale (15th century) in Annone provides a suitable occasion to do so. Apart from the main altarpiece by Rinaldo di Portogruaro (1544), this old church, which survived the 1976 earthquake, has a number of interesting small frescos. There is also a fine altarpiece depicting the Crucifixion and another of Santa Fosca by the School of Piazzetta. In the sacristy there is a skillfully executed large fresco dated 1537 by what would appear to be an artist from the Venetian school. This can also be deduced from the rural landscape. Some believe, however, that the author's initials P.B.D.B. and a few elements of the work could mean that a Bergamo artist painted it.

In addition to the bell-tower of San Vitale, there are some many interesting frescos on some large houses and even on some simple farmhouses, in keeping with a fairly widespread custom in villages through the Veneto countryside.

Of special interest is a fresco, "The Madonna of the Pear" (late 16th century), in a house (Casa Giacomotto) in Oltrefossa. In general, Annone Veneto bears many signs of typical Venetian architecture as well as the characteristic balconies full of flowers.


Eating Out

An incredibly wide range of wines is produced in the area: Riesling, Raboso Pinot, Sauvignon, Tocai, Cabernet, Refosco, Verduzzo, Malbec and Merlot. They are of such high quality that they ensure the 59 "Wine Cities" and are an excellent companion to the savory local cuisine, known especially for its delicious fish dishes.


Restaurants

Da Guido
Tel. 0422 769193
Closed On Mondays

La Pagoda
Tel. 0422 769137
Closed On Monday Evenings
And Tuesdays



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