Comacchio is a suggestive lagoon town that dates back to Late Roman times built on 13 islands in the middle of an extensive wetlands. The present-day urban center is rich in testimony from the past: handsome churches and monuments suspended between bridges over the canals, the most impressive of which is the 17th Century Trepponti, the ancient main entrance to the city.
Another sight that simply must not be missed is the Museo del Carico della Nave Romana (Roman Galley Cargo Museum) that holds the relics found aboard a merchant ship that sailed these waters in the 1st century BC.. "Trepponti" is the city monumental bridge and gateway constructed at the order of Cardinal Pallotta in the first half of the 17th Century and designed by Architect Luca Danese. Trepponti bridge is composed of five-arched staircases that descend from a central staircase that leads into the square where the fish market is held every morning inside the picturesque building also built in the 1600s. Typical lagoon boats known as "batane" that take on passengers for even more suggestive views of the city are moored along the canals.
A few kilometers away from the city stands the Valli di Comacchio, 11,000 ha of salt marshland brinked by raised embankments that provide home to the lagoon characteristic fauna and flora. Two particularly suggestive points are the peninsula of Boscoforte and the le Saline salt-flats where a healthy population of flamingos can be admired in the right season. The Po Delta Regional Park is the district largest regional park and occupies a considerable part of the Emilia Romagna territory. The Park is divided into six different zones, each with its own attractions of wildlife, landscape, history and culture. Visitors can explore the Park extraordinary beauty along various itineraries laid out for automobile, bicycle, and foot.
The Abbey of Pomposa is a complex of buildings that forms one of the most illustrious Benedictine Monasteries of the Middle Ages: the Basilica, the Refectory, the Chapter Room and the Court form the Abbey heart. The majestic Bell-tower was added in later epoch.
The Benedictine friars founded the Abbey in the 7th Century a.C, and by the Year 1000, the Abbey enjoyed wide prestige in the region and the Abbot was held in great consideration. The Benedictine monks remained until the start of the 16th Century, when the entire monastic family moved to Ferrara. The Abbey passed into private hands and was dedicated to agriculture before being declared a National Monument in the previous century. The Abbey has hosted many numerous guests over the centuries, from Barbarossa to Dante Alighieri. Constructed over the years in a mixture of Romanic and Byzantine styles, its treasures include masterpieces of both the Ferrarese and Bologna Schools of art.
The Castello Estense della Mesola (Mesola Este Castle) was built in the latter half of the 16th Century at the behest of Last Duke of Ferrara, Alfonso II, in honour of his third wife, Margherita Gonzaga. Final residential "pearl" occupied by the Nobles Estensi, the Castle is distinguished by an austere elegance. Located at the center of an immense royal game reserve, the Castle was once protected by a 12-kilometer ring of walls, not a stone of which remains today. Its annex structures set in semi-circle around the Castle have survived, and now serve as characteristic shops and restaurants today.
The Castle houses the Environmental Education Center and the Library, and often provides the setting for special exhibitions around the year.
This ancient alleys and sumptuous palazzi of this magic city are steeped in the history and splendour of the Nobles Estensi and the Renaissance. Ferrara has been declared World Heritage by UNESCO for the protection of its unique monuments and architecture.
Ferrara began its municipal and cultural development towards the end of the 14th Century, when it was further graced by the addition of today Duomo (the Cathedral), constructed in Romanic-Gothic style between the 12th and 14th Centuries holding numerous frescoes, paintings and sculpture by Garofano, Guercino, and Bastianino (16th Century) together with numerous other monastic centers. Ferrara can be neatly divided into two distinct architectural styles: the Medieval area that runs from the Castle along Via della Giovecca, Via delle Volte and Porta d’Amore, and the Renaissance area that includes Street Ercole I d’Este (know as "degli Angeli" long ago) that leads to the ring that closed the daunting, splendid walls in ancient times.
The city symbols are the Castello Estense (Este Castle), begun in 1385 as a fort and completed in the 16th Century astride the two areas above, an architectural treasure with its Medieval Tower of Lions, subterranean dungeons, gothic chambers on the ground floor, and spacious halls with frescoes by Bastianino, Girolamo da Carpi and the Filippi father and sons (16th Cent. Game Room); Palazzo dei Diamanti presents an interrupted geometric facade of stone worked to diamond shape. Ferrara can be explored by simply strolling through its streets, the actual annals of Renaissance time and culture, that amply suggest the city glorious past even today. History stands on every corner, in its sumptuous palaces and winding Medieval alleys, and comes alive once again in the colours and music of the annual pageant of Palio di San Giorgio. A truly special atmosphere reigns in the city center, where the rhythm of life is cadenced by the passing of hundreds of bicycles amidst the shores and coffee shops.
Venice, the city of romance and water, is the favourite destination of every tourist, with its unique and unmatched assortment of landmarks. St. Mark's Square is just one feature that makes Venice so unique, especially its view over the lagoon in the southeast corner, outlined on one side by the high Bell Tower and on the other by the splendid gallery of the Doge's Palace. Tourists from all over the world pass through this vast open space surrounded by historic buildings, having their photo taken while engulfed by the numerous pigeon that flock Venice.
This is where the events of the Carnival is held (one of the most important carnivals in the world), and where it is possible to admire the most beautiful and elaborate masks, in a spark of colour that goes back to the splendour of the golden age of Venice between the XVI and XVIII centuries. St. Mark's Basilica has always been the pride of Venetians, symbol of the greatness of the Republic; it housed the most precious treasures from the oriental cities under Venetian domination, including the treasures from the conquest of Constantinople.
The interior of the Basilica is decorated with a wealth of mosaics, the best mosaic work created between the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. The Bridge of Sighs linked the courtrooms in the Doge's Palace to the New Prisons (built as an extension added to the Palace and separated from the main building by a small canal). Hidden behind what appears to be a sentimental name and a backdrop to gondola tours taken by lovers, originated from romantic literature, which described the last glimpse of the condemned, overwhelmed by the nostalgia of the Venetian panorama, seen for the last time from the central window at the centre of the bridge before succumbing to their punishment. It is now one of the biggest tourist attractions on Venetian gondola tours.
Venice can be accessed in two ways, either across the bridge on the lagoon or via the public vaporetto waterbus service. The main canals in the city are the Grand Canal and the Giudecca Canal. The reversed S shape of the former cuts the city in two; the other canal separates the historic centre from the island of Giudecca.
Thanks to strategic location, Ravenna, a small city with a naval base on the Adriatic coast defended against attack from land by its lagoon, became the capital of the Western Roman Empire and for this reason lived a period of extraordinary artistic flourishing together with the birth of Christian iconography in the 5th Century and its courtly art made it direct descendent of Rome. Its artistic splendour attracted many nobles, and above all, many different cultures that made her a monumental city of international fame now protected as a World Heritage.
Many religious buildings hold excellent works of Oriental beauty and mystique (exquisite mosaic work in golf leaf and lapislazuli …), the most famous being the Basilica Ursiana with its five naves erected beneath the Vescovo Orso Bishopric, the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist (425), the Church of Santa Croce and the Mausoleum of Galla Placida.
One of the most striking expressions of renewed Imperial Byzantine grace and grandeur is the Basilica di S. Vitale, with its precious marbles, mosaic-work depicting the Emperor Justinian and Empress Theodora, classically elegant capitals etc. Ravenna reached her maximum splendour in the period following the re-conquest of Italy by Justinian, Emperor of the East. S. Apollinare in Classe, consecrated in 549, offers the fortunate visitor a glittering, gem-studded cross set above in the starry sky of the apse, and the brilliant mosaic-work composing the Transfiguration of Christ on Monte Tabor that gives the astonishing effect of embroidered fabric and carpet.