If you stand on Bibione beach and look right, on clear sunny day you can see the picturesque city of Caorle with the tower bell designing the skyline and the Sanctuary of our Lady of the Angel running out over the sea. As the crow flies “only” the lagoon divides Bibione from Caorle.
And even if the distance seems to be little, that area is rich in canals and biodiversity: a treasure chest of natural beauties and traditions. Sun and crisp air are the perfect ingredients to transform a day between the colourful city centre of Caorle and the marvels of the nature oasis of Vallevecchia into an unforgettable experience for the whole family. Warning before leaving: don’t forget to take with you swimsuits and beach towels because today destination will give you opportunities to swim and sunbathe by the beach.
Plan to leave in the morning towards Caorle, today destination. Outside the window runs the landscape of Veneto region countryside that acquires different unique colours and appearance according to the seasons. Park the car outside the old city centre and walk along the canal where fishermen’s boats are docked. If you arrive early in the morning you could meet some fishermen coming back from the hunt with a load of fresh fish or watch them while they repair their nets.
The new parking lot situated outside Caorle [on SP 59, before the roundabout, on the right] is free. It is just 10 minutes walk from the city centre and in summer you can count on a free shuttle service. The parking lot in Corso Chiggiato [where the market takes place on Saturdays] is as big and nearer to the city centre, but it is a pay and display parking.
Caorle old city centre
At the end of the canal cross the street: you are in the middle of Caorle old city centre. The old city centre streets are so rich in colours that you will feel like being in a small Burano – the colourful island situated next to Venice – but without canals. Still in the past Caorle had its canals as well: that’s not a coincidence that the main street is named “Rio Terà”, which means, “buried steam”. yStop the family, sit together at one of the cafes along the main street and bite a croissant at the open air: collect all the energies you need to discover Caorle and then go exploring the narrow streets and the colourful houses with balconies full of lively flowers.
Caorle circular tower bell stands out against the old city centre: reach it and in front of you you will see the Romanic Dome. Go inside to visit it and then continue in the adjacent Diocesan Museum where archaeological finds and religious objects are kept [Piazza Vescovado, 6, tel. +39 0421 81028].
From June till September guided tours of the Dome, the tower bell and the Museum are organized, for info tel. +39 0421 81028, www.caorleduomo.altervista.org. Just few steps divide you from the sea: walk along the promenade lining the big rocks that are carved every year by artists during the festival “Scogliera Viva” and reach the little church you see. This is the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Angel [Viale Madonna dell’Angelo, tel. +39 0421 81028], an important place for the citizens of Caorle: in the church is kept the statue of the Virgin Mary which story is told in a beautiful legend that the kids will love to hear.
Every 5 years takes place in Caorle the celebration of our Lady of the Angel, a procession by sea and by land to celebrate the Virgin Mary. It involves Caorle and nearby villages whole population. The next one will take place in 2020.
Not far from the city centre, where the countryside meets the lagoon, there are traditional treasures that cannot be missed: the casoni, the ancient houses of the fishermen. You can’t leave Caorle without seeing them! The best way to reach them is by bike [you can rent it in one of the bike and rickshaws shops situated in the village]. On the two wheels line the seafront towards Porto Falconera, leave the lagoon behind and continue along the gravel bicycle path signalled on the brown signpost of I3 itinerary. On the left there are fields as far as the eye can see, on the right the lagoon winking at you across the trees.
There, between water and land, you’ll see the first casoni. Stop to take some photos if you like, but then carry on till the end of the road where you can leave the bike and continue by foot in the so called “Isola dei pescatori” [Fishermen’s island]. The Casoni, the old houses made of reeds, were fishermen’s homes during winter. When the weather was too cold and the sea too rough to fish fishermen retired in the lagoon with their families were the water was calmer and they could fish and find food to live. Walk between these examples of local tradition: if you are lucky you can meet the kind owner of a casone who will show you the interiors, happy to chat and tell you its story.
Does your stomach growl? Get up on the bike and ride back to Caorle. Sit at one of the many restaurants of the city centre for a well-deserved lunch! If you want to eat something typical choose a fish dish. Many children [but also adults] cannot resist to fried squids: some restaurants sell them to take away packed in the traditional paper cone, so that you can eat them while walking.
Moscardino is Caorle typical food. It is a small mollusc similar to an octopus. It is fished in Caorle waters and it is the basic ingredient for many tasty recipes.
Vallevecchia nature oasis
In the afternoon get in the car and drive the family to Vallevecchia nature oasis [follow the way to Brussa]. That’s a lagoon ecological preserve where you can still see the natural sand hills situated between the beach and the pinewood that in the past were typical of the landscape of the Italian North Adriatic coast. Not only. In Vallevecchia you can also see animals – especially birds – that find their perfect habitat here.
Leave the car in the parking lot since you can visit the nature oasis only by foot, by bike or by horse. In any case if you are visiting Vallevecchia on Saturdays or Sundays we suggest you to start from the visitors centre [it is situated at the end of Provincial Road Portogruaro-Brussa, open to public on summer weekends, tel. +39 333 7409574]. In the visitors centre you will find many information about lagoon environment, for example the animals living there, the plants growing there and the traditional activities carried out in this place [you can also visit a reconstructed casone]. At the information centre you can also rent bikes to explore the area.
To rent the bikes you need to call at least one day before your visit this number +39 333 7409574. On Saturdays and Sundays from June till August the visitors centre is always open so you can rent the bike without previously call. The sight will space among pinewoods, fields that in the past where swampy and now are cleaned, canals and small stretches of water, dunes and beach. You can stop in the bird watching stations and spy the migrant birds. Finally you can end the day with your family by the beach playing in the water, building sand castles and relaxing under the warm sun.
In Vallececchia there is a public beach, the Brussa. Due to the fact that it is a sheltered area you won’t find many services there, for this reason we suggest you to take with you bottles of water and something to eat. Remember to throw the garbage in the trash bins or carry it back home: help us maintaining this nature area clean and untouched.
Credits Valentina Paro, Diarioinviaggio.it