Canals at Comacchio.
After leaving Ravenna and travelling north to the delightful community centered on Comacchio with its skein of canals and magnificent expanse of wetland, I somehow never got around to writing a post about our time there. It is pretty much an undiscovered jewel just south of the Po delta, with an old world air that is hard to define, enhanced by the waterways in the village and the waterworld that it sits beside. Some lovely B&Bs have opened up, attracting people like us who are looking for something a little off the beaten track.
Ricardo, our host was one of the first to spot the potential, after moving back himself to the area and opening a guest house. We loved his warmth and the ability to meet and with the other guests, one of whom, an international jewel and antique dealer was also an expatriate. He recalled his grandfather waiting with an expectant crowd in 1945 for the New Zealand troops to arrive and complete the liberation of a town that had seen many of its anti-Fascist resistance fighters executed since Mussolini had fallen in 1943. Despite the flowers, the cheers and wine at the ready, the Kiwi troops merely sped straight through on the way to somewhere more important, and the locals were left with no party at all.
We made our way around the town, buying espressos, listening to the voices and drinking in the atmosphere. Wonderful. A trip to the edge of the wetland along the canals crowded by houses and shops had us right above an eel fisherman lifting his net for the catch of the day. Eel iconography was everywhere, on shops and homes – it’s a local staple and delicacy.
We had made up our minds to cycle around the wetland, which we did on hired bikes, fighting off clouds of midges as we passed the eeling stands of the locals, some with motorised lifts to draw up the nets, many looking like Kiwi equivalent of blokey sheds where men escaped the domestic sphere. Later, we went on a guided tour, which included a visit to the sites of the historic salt industry, a famous local product in recent times, now in abeyance.
All in all, Comacchio was a perfect way to ease out of the journey with the rental Panda and head back to Bologna, catching the train to Verona and our last days in Italy with Alex and Marta.