Comacchio - a bit like Venice - only much more dreamy

Hardly anyone knows Comacchio. The town has something of Venice, the landscape of the Po Delta looks like it was painted - and for a few years now, flamingos have provided additional color effects.

Façades, towers and all kinds of bridges are reflected in the water of the canals. In front of restaurants and bars one  can sit with seafood and grilled eel. The youuth tend to meet on the Trepponti. This impressive bridge construction of the town of Comacchio, built on 13 islands, spans three canals with five stairs. Comacchio appears a little bit like  Venice - with the difference that mass tourism is never a problem here.

The key attraction and symbol of Comacchio, Ponte Pallotta, better known as Trepponti. This bridge, dating back to 1638, was the gateway to the city as the channel below led to the Adriatic Sea. The monument was designed by the Ravenna architect Luca Danese at the behest of Cardinal Giovan Battista Pallotta.


Comacchio is a 22,000-inhabitant town, and within an hour's drive are nine Unesco World Heritage sites  and the beaches in front of the city are among the widest on the Adriatic. In comparison to Venice, Comacchio has a secluded life compared to Venice or the nearby Ravenna. It is precisely because of this tranquil atmosphere that a well-known pasta producer recently turned Comacchio into the backdrop of an advertising spot that combines Italy's core competencies in matters of history and enjoyment with a good dose of nostalgia. 


Around the canals, there are plenty of trattorias well known for their local specialities. Autumn is a great time for visiting Comacchio; not only due to  the mild climate, but also to the eels, which are now increasingly found in the waters around Comacchio. 

Unesco declared  the 140,000 hectares of the Po Delta a biosphere reserve in 2015, including the Comacchio lagoons. The Po with its tributaries, the sea and the people have formed a landscape of dams, islands, water and glistening light.In the 19th and 20th centuries, almost half of the lagoons were drained. Many a surprise came to light. In addition to 4,000 Etruscan graves, a Roman merchant ship overturned in the penultimate decade before Christ with surprisingly well-preserved cargo was found.

 Today there are still 12,000 hectares of lagoons, which are even quieter than Comacchio but popularr with flamingos. They start almost immediately behind the borders of the old town; The easiest way to approach them is by bike, which is the ideal means of transportation thanks to the narrow dams and ferries.

Soon the water surfaces of the lagoons spread out. Boat tours through the lagoons start near the “Bettolino di Foce” restaurant, where eel is marinated or served as a stew. More seagulls, cormorants, herons and gray herons can be seen here than people - and flamingos! It should now be 20,000. How things went here a few decades ago are shown on the upper floor by scenes from the film “The Woman from the River” (“La donna del fiume”) from 1954 with Sophia Loren. With sweaty arms, otherwise matt powdered, she smokes eels on a spit in the hall with the twelve huge fireplace stoves, shows her legs and cycles away after work to take a ferry and bike to an island. A pleasure that cyclists can still indulge in on their tours through the lagoon landscape.

The long-awaited Eel Festival of Comacchio is back, identified as Slow Food safeguard and whose production has a centuries-old tradition.

But the Eel Festival is not only famous for the delicacies that are offered, but also for the beauty and uniqueness of the city of Comacchio, a group of tiny roads, canals and bridges; not to mention the valleys of the Po Delta Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Specialities include 'maccheroncini al sugo di pesce', 'fritto misto di valle', 'anguilla ai ferri con polenta', 'brodetto d’anguilla con polenta', 'seppie with peas' and 'dolcetto Comacchiese'.

Restaurants such as Il Cantinon specialise in Eel specialities, such as Risotto di Anguilla.


1 kg of small eels, 450 g of rice, 50 g of butter, half an onion, two small stalks of celery, 150 g of Parmesan cheese, a tablespoon of tomato paste, a tablespoon of olive oil.


Lightly color the onion and celery finely chopped in a pan with half the butter and a little olive oil. Add the rice, toast well and then incorporate the eel previously cleaned, peeled and cut into small pieces and boiled for about thirty minutes. Continue cooking the rice by slowly adding the eel cooking broth. Incorporate the tomato puree about halfway through cooking and, removed from the heat, stir in the butter and cheese. Serve immediately.

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