The Territory of Emilia-Romagna
Comacchio: A Treasure to Preserve
The history of Comacchio is linked to the morphological and hydrographic evolution of the territory and the gradual coastline advance produced by the alluvial deposits of the river Po: these factors have deeply shaped the area.
The first settlements date back to the 6th century BC, when the Etruscans founded the town of Spina. After the decline of Spina in the 3rd century BC, there are no documents witnessing further settlements until the late Roman Age - some villas, whose ruins have been discovered during the reclamation activities, date back to this period. A Roman boat with its load has been recently found in Valle Ponti: it has been called "Fortuna Maris".
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the territory of Comacchio was annexed to Ravenna Exarchate and then to the Lombard Kingdom. If we consider the first settlements, the name Comacchio could derive from the Greek term "Kuma" = wave, attested by the early medieval word "cumaculum" = small wave, but another interpretation traces it back to "commeatulus" = ship meeting.
After defeating and chasing away the Lombards, Charlemagne gave the lagoon town to the Church. The strategic importance of Comacchio in the salt production and trade led in 866 to the war against Venice, which lasted for centuries.
It became later a free Commune and in 1325 it made a deed of devotion to the Dukes of Este, who from that moment governed and managed the incomes of the lagoons. When the House of Este lost its power in 1598, Comacchio became part of the Papal State until the Unification of Italy.
| Miniature model and drawing of the Roman boat of Valle Ponti (Comacchio - Ferrara)
Drawing with "Tre Ponti" in Comacchio (Ferrara)
|(drawing of Argenta territory in the Middle Ages, entirely submerged)
Acqua che danneggia la vita.
L'uomo è costretto bonificare
Se la malaria vuole evitare.
Acqua che allaga,
acqua che inonda
e sommerge pure la sponda.
Acqua, acqua, acqua.
anche la pieve nell'acqua sta.
Man and Water
The fifth grades of Argenta elementary school have studied the historical-geographical and scientific evolution of their territory, trying to discover and understand the morphology of the environment, the vegetal and animal life, and the measures that man has carried out over the centuries.
As a matter of fact, the plain has been created by the floods of the river Po and the rivers of the Apennines that have deposited sand and silt. Over the centuries, the plain has been covered with vegetation.
Man has deforested to build and cultivate. The centuries-old challenge against natural elements begun: man separated land from water.
Reclamation projects were carried out: reclamation by alluvion (drawing), natural drainage (drawing), mechanical drainage - Porte Vinciane (drawing and picture of Torre dell'Abate).
Despite the several efforts carried out by man to embank the rivers, several floods occurred.
The important 20th century reclamation projects led to the building of a great quantity of minor constructions and sluice-gates and to the movement of about 12 million cubic meters of land for the creation of 858 km of channels.
The territory was divided in "upper lands" with natural drainage and "lower lands" with mechanical drainage made possible by dewatering pumps with electric engines.
Saiarino (in the picture) was the first big dewatering pump plant, with 6 pumps raising the waters of the plain to make them flow in the river Reno or to "park" them in big expansion basins when the river, in flood, was not able to receive them (drawing of the "basins" in Campotto, Vallesanta, and Bassarone).
Reclamation activities carried out by the House of Este: reclamation by alluvion (drawing), and natural drainage (drawing)
Reclamation activities carried out by the House of Este: mechanical drainage, Porte Vinciane (drawing and photo of Torre dell'Abate).
(drawing of the "basins" in Campotto, Vallesanta, and Bassarone).
Mesola and Santa Giustina Woodlands
Mesola and Santa Giustina Woodlands
In the past, the Delta territory was characterized by large woodlands; afterwards, great part of these forests has been destroyed for the production of timber. In the lower Ferrarese area some relicts of these ancient woodlands remain: Gran Bosco della Mesola or "Boscone" (1,058 hectares) and the thin Bosco di S. Giustina or della Fasanara (about 101 hectares).
These woodlands probably formed in the early Middle Ages on the dune strips created at the mouth by Po di Goro and Po di Volano. During the period of the House of Este, they belonged to one only forest which was very rich in game (deer, roe deer, wild boars, and pheasants) and extended from the sea to Mesola Castle. Boscone della Mesola and Bosco di S. Giustina have developed on the same geomorphological structure and are characterized by the same vegetal communities. Boscone is now a state estate, while Regione Emilia Romagna owns Bosco di S. Giustina. Both estates are managed by the State Corps of Foresters. Man settled along the woodland coastal stretches which formed after the 12th century because of the coastline advance. They represent the remains of a great complex of coastal forests which in the Middle Ages reached the mouth of the river Tagliamento.
Pupils creating wall paintings representing Boscone della Mesola