A maritime city of ancient origins, Chioggia the little Venice, will surprise you with its canals, bridges, alleys and pastel-colored houses but also the large Venetian-style buildings.
Chioggia the little Venice, is a populous and lively seafaring city, dripping with history from every stone. It has a very original structure: sliced by the canals, sewn by the bridges. Its streets, all perpendicular to the square, suggest the classic image of the fishbone.
Walking through the streets and bridges, you can admire all the charm and elegance that the city transmits.
The Venetian-style buildings overlooking the canals, the characteristic Chioggia boats called “Bragozzi” with their colorful sails, the fish market, the Corso del Popolo, Churches, Museums and Monuments, Piazza Vigo with its beautiful bridge …
A bit of history
Legend has it that Antenore (a character from the Greek mythology of Homer’s famous epic Iliad), who fled Troy after his defeat, found refuge on the Adriatic coast together with his peasants Aquilio and Clodio. Antenore founded the city of Padua, Aquilio the city of Aquileia while Clodio the city of Clodia, which later became Cluza, Clugia, Chiozza and finally Chioggia.
The first historical references, on the other hand, are with Pliny the Elder (1st century AD) who in his “Historia Naturalis” describes the “Fossa Clodia”.
In medieval times, Chioggia was part of the Confederation of the twelve islands of the lagoon, the first nucleus of the Republic of the Serenissima whose only head was the Dux or Doge.
The 1400s, 1500s and 1600s were centuries characterized by a precarious situation. The defenses at sea were destroyed or severely damaged, the territory was subject to continuous flooding and the population had to endure plagues and famines. On Christmas Eve of 1623 the city was devastated by the fire, perhaps arson, of the ancient cathedral and the reconstruction bled even more the already reduced financial resources of Chioggia. Almost simultaneously it had to suffer the consequences of the plague of the lansquenets, which caused as many as 7,000 victims out of a population that did not exceed 12,000 people.
On May 14, 1797 the French entered Chioggia and established a democratic system (the municipality) but it did not last long. The entire Venetian Republic on 17 October 1797, with the Treaty of Campoformio, was ceded to Austria. Through the work of Antonio Naccari, who later became the first mayor of Chioggia, on 22-23 March 1848 the city was liberated from the Austrians in an almost peaceful way.
The tradition of fishing
In the second half of the nineteenth century Chioggia became the most important fishing port in all of Italy, with a fleet of about 2500 boats that followed the migrations of fish species seasonally. the bragozzo was the most common boat of Chioggia origin for fishing in the entire Adriatic from the end of the eighteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth century.
When the Chioggia bragozzi returned to port, it was the sails, with their original paintings, that announced to the families who was returning home after a long fishing trip.
The custom of painting the sails of boats seems to have originated in Chioggia, and from here it spread to the Adriatic, starting from Puglia, along the entire boot and arriving in Istria.
Even today in Chioggia the fishing tradition is alive and vibrant in the city. Chioggia is in fact one of the Italian fishing capitals, with a fleet of nearly 400 active boats that serve the international fish market with the best and most varied catch that can be found.
The Chioggia fish sector is among the most important in Europe in terms of supply chain, with 8500 employees, divided into 2600 companies and a turnover of 800 million euros. In addition to fish, production also includes farming in the valleys and shellfish farming. In Italy, only Mazara del Vallo contends with Chioggia for primacy.
The Radicchio of Chioggia
But Chioggia is not just fish. It is also known for its radicchio.
The tastiest of all those grown in the world, it was recognized as a PGI mark by the European Union in 2008. The Consortium for the Protection of Chioggia PGI Radicchio verifies that the product responds to the intrinsic and extrinsic characteristics of the place. You can find Radicchio di Chioggia all year round because it is divided into two types, the “early” and the “late”, characterized by a different ripening period.
Events not to be missed
- The Palio de La Marciliana evokes the most significant historical moment for the city. The War of Chioggia. Along Corso del Popolo, the main street of the city, to the sound of the musicians, banquets are set up, taverns are set up and the armigers’ camps are set up. All around there are dances, songs, simulations of fights but also of the artisanal activities of the time. A historical reconstruction involving hundreds of figures in fourteenth-century clothes and in the guise of swordsmen and drummers, capable of transporting those who attend the event in a suggestive medieval climate. And while the city awakens under the medieval light, the Contradas compete for the Palio in a team crossbow competition. When? The third weekend of June each year.
- The fish festival of Chioggia. It is celebrated every year in mid-July with a program of ten evenings full of events and lots of fish-based cuisine. An invitation to rediscover the flavors and maritime traditions of an ancient land rich in history. But alongside the gastronomic menu, every evening is enlivened by shows such as concerts, children’s shows, dances and performances by street artists. Numerous food stands are set up along Corso del Popolo which turns into a huge one
Bike tour between the sea and the lagoon
For bicycle enthusiasts, Chioggia the little Venice and the nearby areas of Sottomarina and Isola Verde, offer so many itineraries and panoramic cycle paths to enjoy a day on two wheels alone, with family or friends.
Very impressive is the bike tour of the Lusenzo Lagoon, overlooked by Chioggia, Sottomarina and Borgo San Giovanni. A relaxing ring itinerary of about 7 km, with various information points on the flora and fauna that populate this stretch of the lagoon.
Or the Chioggia Cycle Route, a 45 km tour lasting about 3 hours, departing from Cavanella D’Adige and in the historic center of Chioggia, passing through Bosco Nordio, Cà Lino, Laguna di Lusenzo and among the most important Chioggia monuments .
Another interesting bike tour is the bicycle ride from the Euganean Hills to the sea, an unmissable experience departing from Chioggia and Sottomarina and arriving in the Euganean Hills along the “The salt and sugar road” cycle path.
The legend of “el gato de ciosa”
In Piazza Vigo in Chioggia, there is a small column at the top of which a Marcian lion has been placed. Since it is really small compared to those we are used to seeing in Venice, it is called, in fact, “the cat of Chioggia”.
There are many legends and versions of the story of the “cat of Chioggia”, versions that have their roots in the historical rivalry between Venice, the great and rich city of boundless economic power compared to Chioggia, called “little Venice”, whose inhabitants say “Chioggiotti” have always been considered poorer and less aristocratic.
Chioggia is the place of nicknames. The small lagoon town is a more unique than rare case, since most of its inhabitants have a nickname as well as a surname. The reason? The too many cases of homonymy.
Two of the most common surnames have many sayings. The Boscolos, for example, have over 190 nicknames. And so you can meet Enrico Forcola Boscolo, Enrico Bachetto Boscolo, Enrico Cegion Boscolo, and many others. Likewise, another surname with a high number of sayings is Tiozzo, with over 50. Some of these? Pecchie, Bae, Cagarela, Succa, Mela, Sale, Cucchi and many others.
And since 2009, the Italian state has recognized the nicknames of Chioggia, which are included in the identity card and in all official documents, to solve all those problems of rampant homonymy that afflicted the population. Also making administrative and bureaucratic chores easier to attend to.
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Did you know that … The New York Times talk about Chioggia
Chioggia has been inserted in the 2022 list highlights places around the globe where travelers can be part of the solution.