Veneto. Italian Marinas.

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General Information

Geographical Position

Venetia occupies part of north-eastern Italy: it includes the Venetian plain, a continuation of the Po valley, and a mountainous zone (the Venetian Prealps, parts of the Dolomites and the Carnic Alps). It borders to the north with Austria, to the west with Trentino-Alto Adige and Lombardy, to the south with Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna and to the east the region is limited by Friuli-Venezia Giulia and the Adriatic.

The Natural Environment

The morphology of Venetian territory presents a variety of aspects which of its kind is unique; it is characterized by seven physically homogeneous zones which stretch from north to south: the Alpine, Prealpine and Subalpine zones; the upper and the lower plain; the lagoon systems and the Po delta. Part of Lake Garda also belongs to this territory. To the north lie the Carnic Alps, which reach their highest altitudes at the Vanscuro peak (2,678 m.) and Mount Peralba (2,693 m.).
The Monte Croce of Comelico Pass divides the Carnic Alps from the eastern Dolomites, which include peaks over three thousand metres: Marmolada (3,342 m.), Antelao (3,263 m.), the Tofane (3,243 m.), Civetta (3,218 m.), Cristallo (3,216 m.).
The Venetian Prealps, farther to the south, consist of mountain groups and plateaux. From east to west, stretch the Cavallo-Col Nudo chain, the Cansiglio plain, the Prealps of Belluno, Mount Grappa, the Asiago plateau, the Pasubio, the Lessini mountains and the Mount Baldo range. Karst phenomena are present in Cansiglio (dolinas) and in the Lessini mountains (the `Spluga della Preta' ravine, 889 m., is the deepest in Italy). The subalpine zone includes the Conegliano hills, Montello, the Asolo hills and the morainic hills of Lake Garda.
Like Piedmont and Lombardy, Venetia also has an upper plain, characterized by the permeability of the ground, and a lower plain, with impermeable soil, just below some springs. Two rivers of a certain importance are fed by sources (springs) on the plain: these are the Sile and the Bacchiglione. Water is plentiful and there are considerable irrigation systems in the intensively cultivated lower plain, sloping uniformly towards the Adriatic, interrupted only by two reliefs, the Berici mountains (444 m.) and the Euganean hills (602 m.), of volcanic origin.
Of the ancient lagoon system which, until last century, was far more articulated before land reclamation, there are still two small lagoons, Biblione and Caorle, and the wide Venetian Lagoon. The natural conformation of the latter was created by the Republic of Venice which controlled the outflow of the following rivers: the Piave, Sile, Dese, Marzenago, Brenta and Adige. The Po Delta begins in the vicinity of Papozze, where the river branches off as the Levante, Maistra, Pila, and Gnoccas, in a picturesque landscape where reclaimed valleys alternate with dead lagoons, marshes, little islands and cane-brakes: this is an ideal habitat for the numerous species of avifauna present. Apart from the Po other important rivers are the Piave (completely Venetian), the Brenta, Adige, Livenza and Tagliamento. The lakes, except for Lake Garda, all small and often artificial are: Santa Caterina, Pieve di Cadore, Pontesei, Misurina.
The variations in climate are influenced, by the particular morphology. Continental on the plains, the climate is milder along the Adriatic coast, round Lake Garda and in the open hilly areas. The winter is harsh everywhere, due to northeasterly winds. Precipitation is scarce (750 m. annually) on the lower plain, more abundant (750-1,000 m.) on the upper plain; the highest values (1,500 mm.) are recorded in the Bellunese Prealps and on the Asiago plateau.
Woods of alders, poplars, willows and elms are found in the vicinity of San Dona di Piave, Cessalto and in some parts between Conegliano and Oderzo. Around the lagoons, other than the vegetation typical of humid zones, survive the black pine, the maritime pine and the evergreen oak. The flora of Lake Garda is decidedly mediterranean. The alpine zones are characterized by oak trees, chestnuts and broadleafed trees (up to 1,100 m.), beeches and conifers (up to 2,200 m., rhododendron and dwarf pines (over 2,200 m.). The protected areas are numerous; the Parco delle Dolomiti Bellunesi and the Po Delta park will shortly be established.

Population and Economy

In contrast with the other regions, Venetia lacks one centre which is distinctly superior to the others as regards population and economical importance. Venice, the capital, has in fact only 333,000 inhabitants, followed by Verona (260,000 inhabitants) and Padua (227,000 inhabitants). The region's population, though mainly in the upper flat areas (Treviso, Padua and Vicenza plains), is scattered. Nearly half of the more than four million inhabitants of Venetia live in communities with a population of less than ten thousand. The population density is higher than the national average, apart from Rovigo and Belluno, which are poorer towns and have been affected by emigration and depopulation of the countryside and mountain areas. A constant in the life of the region, this escalated after the disastrous Po Delta floods in 1951 and in the years that followed, when poles of attraction were Piedmont and Lombardy, protagonists of great economic expansion. Today, there is less tendency to emigrate, and in some parts none at all, as a result of improved general economic conditions in the area, development of the industrial sector and reduced demand for labour in the more industrialized regions.
In Venetia, different dialects are spoken, all deriving from a common Venetian matrix; only the dialects of the mountain regions have been influenced by the Rhaeto-Romanic language. Mention must be made of the presence of small isolated linguistic zones: an ancient Bavarian dialect is spoken at Sappada, Giazza (at the foot of the Lessini), Rotzo and Roana (in the vicinity of Asiago), where `cimbri', a German dialect dating back to the eleventh century is spoken. It must also be remembered that the Venetian dialect was, for centuries, the official language of the Republic of Venice.
Figures regarding income pro capita and other social indicators are slightly higher than the national average. They generally indicate adequate standards of living, but also confirm that this is the least developed region in northern Italy, despite a certain increase in factories and modernization of farming techniques.
The fact that there are no large towns in Venetia has meant that factories are distributed all over the region allowing fairly uniform economical growth, with lower risks of water and atmospheric pollution. This cannot be said, however, of the Porto Marghera area which has a high concentration of industry.
Agriculture has lost importance as a factor in the overall regional income (only 6.6 percent) but is nonetheless remunerative, after rationalization of work techniques and support by the administrative authorities. A relevant factor regards part-time farming by industrial workers. Major crops are maize, wheat and sugar beet, followed by vegetables, fodder, fruit (apples and cherries) and wine grapes (Verona and Conegliano areas). The quantity of livestock owned is considerable, especially for cattle and pig breeding. Fishing is important and Venetia occupies fifth place on the national scale, providing large quantities of fish and seafood. Fish farming is an important new development in the lagoons and Po Delta area.
Industry is characterized by the presence of small and medium-sized firms and is traditionally strong in certain sectors. Textile production is concentrated in the Vicenza area (Valdagno, Schio), shoe factories along the Brenta river, furniture and household appliance industries around Treviso and ceramics in the Bassano area. The Porto Marghera industrial complex represents one of the major concentrations of Italian industry with chemical and petrochemical plants, metallurgical and engineering works and thermoelectric stations. Mining is of little importance (marble, kaolin, lead, zinc); on the other hand, craftsmanship is important (glass, lace, jewelry, reproduction furniture, ceramics).
Commercial and financial activities are concentrated in the provincial capitals, especially Venice where there is a busy commercial port, and Verona, an important freight distribution centre on the communication routes to and from Central Europe. A characteristic of the banking sector is the presence of banks of Catholic administration.
The communications network is well developed, due also to the fact that Venetian territory is mainly on the plain. There are two important road and rail axes: the first linking Milan to Venice, the second linking the Po valley to the Brenner Pass. Complex is the waterway system (navigable rivers and canals) which centres round the ports of Chioggia and Venice. There are three international airports: Venice-Tessera, Verona-Villafranca and Treviso-Santangelo.


Venetia is traditionally a region of great attraction to tourists, with the presence of a high quality centre of interest such as Venice (see specific chapter) and of itineraries of great interest from an environmental and artistic point of view.
Travelling from Verona and going east through the charming upper Venetian plain, one comes to Soave, with its castle and circle of walls built by the Scaligeris (14th-15th century); Marostica, still surrounded by fourteenth century walls, where the annual chess game with living chessmen is played in the beautiful Piazza del Castello; Bassano del Grappa, with its medieval and Renaissance works of art. Nearby lies Asolo, a town of Renaissance appearance with picturesque porticoed streets; Castelfranco Veneto, birthplace of Giorgione, with the especially interesting house-museum of the artist and beautiful sixteenth century buildings enclosed within medieval fortified walls; lastly, Cittadella, a typical example of a fortified medieval village. Farther north lies Feltre, another fortified town of ancient appearance, with famous Renaissance buildings, and Vittorio Veneto, of environmental and artistic interest (an altarpiece by Titian inside the Duomo). Near the boundary with Friuli lies Portogruaro, with important examples of Gothic and Renaissance architecture. There are interesting places to visit also on the lower plain: among others, Montagnana with its old town centre enclosed by walls (13th-14th century) and Gothic-Renaissance Duomo; Este with a wealth of Renaissance buildings and churches and Monselice overlooked by a rock (remains of a keep and walls). Reaching the Adriatic, one comes to Chioggia, a picturesque village on a lagoon, full of canals and narrow `calli'.
All over the Venetian plain, but especially in the Provinces of Treviso, Padua, Vicenza and Venice, stand numerous remarkable artistic rural constructions, the Ville Venete. Dates of construction of these villas range from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries. There are approximately five thousand Ville Venete, of which 1,400 are declared of historical and monumental interest. Of greater artistic importance are the villas built in great numbers during the 16th century, as a result of historical events (wars against Turkey, Spanish competition in the maritime cereals trade in the Mediterranean) that forced the Venetian government to support inland agricultural production. The villa, therefore, was the centre of a residential and productive complex, necessarily magnificent being destined to receive the rich landowners who transferred themselves there from the city. For this reason, the best architects of the time competed to build these constructions and the most famous is, without doubt, Andrea Palladio, architect also of the splendid Rotonda, near Vicenza, the most famous of his creations. In subsequent centuries, villa building continued, though not for the same reasons, but as a fashion of wealthy Venetians, leaving however, in the subsequent styles, fine examples of artistic merit. Navigation of the canal or `Riviera' del Brenta, between Venice and Padua, on a tourist steam-boat, the `Burchiello', is an original and delightful way to enter the world of the Ville Venete.
The variety of the Venetian environment naturally allows ample space for traditional tourism. In the most northern part of the region are the very famous resorts with facilities for both the winter and summer seasons: Cortina d'Ampezzo, in the heart of the Dolomites; Arabba, between the Sella group and the Marmolada; Auronzo, in the upper Cadore; Alleghe, at the foot of Mount Civetta; Sappada, in the extreme north of the region; the Asiago plateau. Famous and busy seaside resorts (mostly German tourists) include Bibione, Caorle, Lido di Iesolo, Lido di Venezia, Sottomarina and Albarella, a complex constructed on an island, all most important.
Tourists flock to the eastern bank of Lake Garda with the picturesque lakeside resorts of Lazise, Cisano, Bardolino, Garda, Torri del Benaco and Malcesine, which offer the possibility of a quiet holiday, made more pleasurable by a mild climate and a Mediterranean-type environment.
The Spa resorts are traditionally important; these include Recoaro, famous for its mineral waters, with facilities for winter tourism (Recoaro 1000); Abano, Montegrotto, Galzignano and Battaglia, all on the slopes of the Euganean hills, characterized by the presence of warm thermal waters (70-92 ?C) which permit the use of mudbath therapy in the treatment of various diseases.
The region also pleases the tourist who prefers unpolluted and open spaces: one excellent example is the Po Delta, which offers ample scope for the birdwatcher (herons, ducks, coots, plovers, avocets, godwits, curlews and numerous other species of aquatic birds), another the Cansiglio forest (beeches, Norway spruce) in the Belluno area, one of the largest Italian forests. Finally, the Lessini mountains hold great attractions for the speleologist (various natural caves, including the Spluga della Preta, 889 m. in depth) and for those who are fascinated by the world of fossils (vicinity of Bolea: Eocenic fossils).