Discover Chioggia.

Discover Chioggia. A complete guide to the rich history, culture and main attractions, of this island jewel in the southern lagoon of Venice.

Geography and Location

Getting there from the historic centre of Venice

History and development

The Port of Chioggia

Discover Chioggia – Guide to Major Attractions

A celebratory poem.

Links (internal-external)


“While Venice in high season, is suffocated by an ever increasing wave of visitors, at the Southern entrance of the Venetian Lagoon, lies Chioggia; a fishing port of historical and cultural signifance, which has managed to preserve its authentic feel. For a complete contrast, head over the bridge to Sottomarino and its fabulous coastal beaches; up to 300 metres wide and stretching for 10 miles”.

 

Discover Chioggia – Geography and Location

Chioggia is situated on a small island close to the most southern of the three barrier entrances to the Lagoon of Venice. Causeways connect it to the mainland and to the adjacent island of Sottomarino. The latter is one of the “frazione” (or subdivisions), of the “comune” (or municipality) of Chioggia; which is part of the Metropolitan City of Venice. The other frazione are: Borgo San Giovanni, Brondolo, Cà Bianca, Cà Lino, Cavanella d’Adige, Isolaverde, Sant’Anna and Valli Di Chioggia.

 

A single bridge unites Chioggia and Sottomarina; two worlds so close and yet so different in character. The former is bound to its traditions, an ancient city rich in history and culture. Fishing is historically the livelihood of the port, and remains a significant economic sector. Other important modern industries include textiles, brick-making and steel.

Sottomarina, is predominantly a tourist destination, predominantly for the summer season; with around 60 hotels and 17 campgrounds and mostly given over to seafront tourism. However, in some respects, the two islands are complimentary – their identity is inseparable from the sea, that integrates them both. The quality of the coastal light and the sunsets can be magical.

Chioggia, originally, a group of small islands, is often known as ‘little Venice. It is known for its picturesque canals linked by bridges, many narrow streets (calli) and historical architecture; that contribute to its unique charm and appeal.

It has received many plaudits – it is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Italy and was in 2022; recommended by the New York Times as one of the 52 top travel destinations and was a finalist for the title of Italian Capital of Culture 2024!

Chioggia is about 25 kms (16 miles) south of Venice, as the crow flies and 50 kms (31 miles) by road. The population of the comune, about 29,000 in 1871, has grown to around 50,000 today; with the town of Chioggia accounting for about half of that number.

 

Getting there from the central Venice

If you have the time available, Chioggia makes for an unusual day-trip destination and great experience, away from the bustle of the historic centre and is easily reached from Venice by a variety of public transport systems. Your choice may depend on where you are based in Venice.

Option 1 by Rail. The train is the fastest and most direct way to get from Venice to Chioggia. The journey takes approximately 45 minutes. There are frequent trains between the two cities, with departures every 30 minutes or so. The train fare is €10. To get to the train station in Venice, take Vaporetto Line 1, along the Grand Canal to the Santa Lucia stop.
Option 2 by Bus: Alternatively, you can take the ArrivaVeneto bus line 80, directly from Piazzale Roma in Venice to Chioggia. The bus ride takes approximately 1 hour and 5 minutes and costs between up to €9.
Option 3. Taxi or Shared Ride from Piazzale Roma. Taxi: A taxi ride will cost between €55 and €70. The journey covers a distance of approximately 32.8 miles and takes around 50 minutes. Shared Ride: If you’re considering a more economical option, a shared ride through services like “BlaBlaCar” can be significantly cheaper. The cost for a shared ride is around €3 and the travel time is roughly 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Option 4. By Vaporetto (Water Bus). If you’re in Venice but far from Piazzale Roma or on the islands, consider reaching Chioggia by first taking a vaporetto to Lido di Venezia and then continuing to Chioggia. From Lido di Venezia, take Line 11 (bus + ferry + bus + vaporetto) to reach Chioggia. The journey from Lido to Chioggia takes approximately 70 minutes. This route allows you to discover the “Lidi” island system and is very scenic and a great experience.

You can take various vaporetto lines (1, 5.1, 5.2, 6) from Venice to Lido S.M.E., and catch the bus Line 11 closeby.

This bus takes you across the island of Lido, to Alberoni Faro Rocchetta and the ferry point.

The bus boards the ferry to Santa Maria del Mare, offering an interesting experience.

Continue by bus from Santa Maria del Mare across the island of Pellestrina, to Pellestrina Cimitero.

Finally, take the vaporetto, across the lagoon to Chioggia.

Discover Chioggia – History and development

The town’s development is closely tied to its resilience and strategic position on the Venetian Lagoon and its economic activities, particularly the salt trade, fishing and port activities. It has evolved from a refuge, to a fortified city and to an significant economic hub, a major port and tourist destination.

It was first mentioned in historical records during the Roman era as ‘Fossa Clodia’ and local legend suggests it was founded by a Trojan named Clodius; who had fled sometime during the period of destructions of Troy (12-13th century BC), with hero Aeneus and companions, destined for a new life in Italy.

However, archaeological research gives another version: the city was founded at the beginning of the second millennium BC and is much older than Venice.

The name of the town has changed often, being Clodia, Cluza, Clugia, Chiozza, Chiozzo, Chioggio, and finally to Chioggia.

Compare the ancient and modern maps above. The old map, (?15-16th C) shows Clodia major (Chioggia) and minor (Sottomarino). The left foreground church is the Chiesa di San Domenico, with a no longer existing causeway across to the fortified gateway of del bon Castello. Top left is the Forte san Felice, guarding the entrance to the southern lagoon. You can undertand the strategic importance of Chioggia, over the centuries.

 

Early History: Chioggia served as a refuge for the Veneto population during the barbarian invasions in the 5th century.

It was destroyed by King Pippin of Italy in the 9th century, but rebuilt around a new industry based on salt pans. In the Middle Ages, Chioggia proper was known as Clugia major, whereas Clugia minor was a sand bar, about 600 m further into the Adriatic.

Its modern development began in the 11th and 12th centuries, establishing itself as an important port city. A significant document called the “Pactum Clugiae” relating to the city of Chioggia; confirmed the administrative, managerial and legal autonomy granted to Chioggia by the Serenissima Republic of Venice. It highlighted Chioggia’s significance as a port city focused on trade, its important salt production, fishing and other marine-related economic activities.

Venetian Rule: The most significant period in Chioggia’s history was under Venetian control, which saw over time the significant enhancement of its port and defensive structures. The town was almost completely destroyed by Genoa, during the war with Venice in 1478; but was quickly recaptured by Venice in 1380. The Venetians rebuilt the town immediately and later strengthened it with even more defensive works; including the Forte di San Felice. Michele Sanmicheli (1484-1559), was resposible for the design of many walls and fortifications.

Recent centuries: In the 17th and 18th centuries, Chioggia experienced a period of intense building activity, which included the reconstruction of the Cathedral and the Town Hall. After the Napoleonic invasion and fall of the Republic in 1796, Chioggia came firstly under French and then Austrian rule; until 1866, when it became part of the Kingdom of Italy.

 

The Port of Chioggia

The Port of Chioggia, together with the Port of Venice (Marghera and the Marittima of central Venice), come under the auspices of the “North Adriatic Sea Port Authority”.  Strategically positioned at the apex of the Adriatic Sea, the sea-port authority serves as a junction for two major European transport corridors: the Mediterranean and the Baltic-Adriatic trade routes, linking Central Europe with the Middle East and Africa. Additionally, it acts as a terminal for the riverine route traversing the Po Valley; facilitating river-maritime intermodality, through the conveyance of goods by barge.

The Port of Chioggia, serves as the southernmost entrance to the Venice Lagoon and is known for its productivity in bulk cargo, exceptional loads, and passenger traffic. This entrance has a width of 550 meters and a navigable depth of 8 metres below sea level.

Chioggia maintains its traditional role as a fishing port (now one of Italy’s largest), with tourism also playing a significant part in its economy. Its development strategy emphasises planning, environmental sustainability, cultural initiatives and port-city engagement; aiming to integrate logistics and recreation to foster growth. Together, the two ports cover a total area of over 2,045 hectares, which is equivalent to 5% of the entire city of Venice and 11% of the urbanised municipal territory. Inside the ports, there are over 30 kilometres of quays, with 163 berths organised through 27 terminals, including commercial, industrial, and passenger terminals. Both ports support a large number of companies and employees; currently around 21,000 people.

 


Image above. Aerial photograph of Chioggia and Sottomarina, looking northwards to the southern lagoon entrance and the end of the narrow “lidi” island system. Port facilites for cruise ships and fishing fleet, on middle left. The port access, has a width of about 550 metres and a draft of 8 metres for ships.


 

Discover Chioggia – Guide to Major Attractions

Approaching Chioggia by road, there are two causeways. On the left is the Via Maestri del Lavoro, which serves the port area.  On the right, is the Via Granatieri di Sardegna, which brings you to the old city gate – a monumental arch (photo left) called the Porta Garibaldi and originally known as the Porta Santa Maria. In the centre of the image above is the main Cathedral, the Refugium Peccatorum and just to the right, the monumental archway.

You now enter the heart of Chiogga – the main Canal Vena and parallel and close to it, the main walkway called the Corso del Popolo (commonly referred to as the Piazza at 840metres long). 

Many of the typical Venetian palaces are visible along the Vena canal, the Mascheroni and Grassi palazzos being the most renowned. Along the canal are nine bridges (Vigo, Caneva, Sant’Andrea, della Pescheria, Filippini, San Giacomo, Scarpa, Zitelle and della Cuccagna).

About half-way along in the very centre of the city, you can find the Town Hall and next to it, the retail Fish Market; followed by the Clock Tower Museum of the Sant’Andreas church. At the end of the canal is the Piazzetta Vigo with its famous bridge of the same name with great all-round views. Here you can pick up a boat trip, or catch the ferry to Pellestrina island and back to the Lido.

Every Thursday, the entire Corso is transformed into one of the largest local markets in the Veneto region. In dialect, it is called ‘el zioba‘ (Thursday).

Saints, Festivals, Traditions and Folklore.

Patron saint: San Felice and San Fortunato. Saint’s day June 11.

The issue of surnames. Chioggia represents an almost unique demographic case in Italy: the most common surname among the inhabitants of Chioggia is Zennaro; while the most common surnames of Sottomarina, are Boscolo and Tiozzo. Because of the large number of people with the same surname, the Comune officialised what is known as “detto” –  popular nicknames used to distinguish the various branches of the same family. These “third names” are inserted in every official document, including the driving license and the identity card.

Lace-making. Chioggia is also known for lace-making using bobbins, to create lace in a style which they call “tombolino”. The process is similar to that of Pellestrina, unlike that of Burano lace whch is hand-made . Until the 19th century, women in Chioggia wore an outfit based on an apron, which could be raised to serve as a veil.

Carlo Goldoni. Chioggia, served as the setting of his play “Le baruffe chiozzotte, (baruffa was a loud brawl); one of the classics of Italian literature. Chiozzotto (today more frequently chioggiotto in Italian, or cioxoto in Venetian) is the demonym for Chioggia. Goldoni took his setting seriously: the play is replete with lacemaking, fishermen and other local colour.

Chioggia’s Fish Festival (in Italian Sagra del Pesce). It has been taking place each July since 1938. For ten nights Chioggia’s historical centre becomes a huge open-air restaurant lined up with wooden tables and benches. People celebrate the lagoon, and the local fishing traditions by tucking into generous portions of fantastic seafood.

The Palio della Marciliana. In the third week of June every year, Chioggia stages  – a historic re-enactment inspired by its 14th century history and the War of Chioggia. Hundreds of people, dressed in historical costumes, take over the town. There are noble ladies, knights, musicians and craftsmen, there are ancient games, balls, parades, simulated fights and the Palio della Balestra (crossbow contest). Chioggia re-lives its past when it was rivaling the splendour of Venice.

Several sport and music events taking place through the year, so check the calenda of events on the main website of Chioggia and Tourist offices.

Above. Looking down the Vena Canal from the Ponte di Vigo, with its eight other bridges; to the Cathedral and Porta Garibaldi. The main thoroughfare of the Corso del Popolo to the right. 

Porta Garibaldi and the main churches

Porta Garibaldi. It takes its name after the Italian national hero Giuseppe Garibaldi and symbolises the Italian unification movement of the 19th century. Likely to be one of the first thing you see if you arrive in Chioggia by car, being the gateway into the city. It was once called the porta di S.Maria, probably because of the valuable capital of Madonna di Marina situated within it; together with a plaque commemorating the passage of Pope Pius VII. Its arched structure dates back to 1530 and was originally part of the city’s defense fortifications. Through it one enters Corso del Popolo, Chioggia’s main street; commonly referred to as the “piazza” by the locals.

Duomo di Santa Maria Assunta. (Chioggia Cathedral). The Duomo di Santa Maria Assunta, also known as Chioggia Cathedral. Not only an architectural marvel, but also a testament to the town’s rich history and cultural heritage.

The cathedral dates back to the 1620s and was built on the site of an ancient church dedicated to St Mary of the Assumption; which likely existed since the 8th century and is mentioned around 1000 AD. The original cathedral, with a “Ravenna” style basilical layout, was destroyed by fire on the night of 25–26 December 1623. Architect Baldassare Longhena was tasked with rebuilding it.

The new design blended Corinthian and Ionic styles, resulting in a stunning structure. The foundation stone was laid on 15 August 1624, and the first mass was celebrated on 21 September 1627.

Exterior: The façade is a masterpiece of design and sculpture by Giovanni Pisano. It boasts a beautiful rose window and Venetian mosaics, enhancing the colorful effect of green, red, and white marble inlay. The Romanesque campanile, completed in the late 14th century, stands in the square beside the cathedral. Interior: The floor and rich decoration of the two side chapels of the Blessed Sacrament and the patron saints date to the end of the 17th century and start of the 18th century. The imposing wooden choir stalls in the huge sanctuary, also date from this period.

Chiesa di San Domenico. Located at Corso del Popolo 973, this church may not be the most artistically or architecturally remarkable, but it’s definitely worth a visit. The interior holds its own charm.

Chiesa S. Andrea (Church of St. Andrew):Located on the lively Corso del Popolo, this impressive church is worth a visit (if open). Its architecture and historical significance make it a notable landmark.

Refugium Peccatorum.   It is situated right next to the Chioggia Cathedral, in the area of Piazzale Perotolo. The name “Refugium Peccatorum” translates to “Refuge of Sinners,” which refers to the role of the Virgin Mary as a mediator and intercessor for humanity. The monument features a statue of the Virgin Mary holding the Child Jesus under a golden dome and was originally part of the staircase of the previous cathedral, which was demolished in 1623. Historically, it has been a place where condemned prisoners could offer a last prayer before their execution and nowstands as a symbol of hope and mercy.

Museums of Art and Culture.

The Clock Tower Museum, Chioggia claims to have in its possession the world’s oldest clock, seen on the side of the thousand-year old bell tower of the Sant’ Andrea Church. The 30 foot high clock tower is an original Roman-Byzantine military construction and in 2007; it was opened to the public as a “vertical museum”. Found towards the lagoon-end of Chioggia’s main street of Corso del Popolo. |The Museum has  very restricted opening hours – 10:30 am and 12:30 pm on Sundays and holidays.

Palazzo Grassi – Riva Canal Vena, 1281. It contains the Museo di Zoologia Adriatica “Giuseppe Olivi” (and the Department of the Faculty of Marine Biology of the University of Padua).

Biblioteca civica Cristoforo Sabbadino – Campo Marconi, 108

Museo Diocesano D’Arte Sacra – Via Sagraeto

Museo Civico della Laguna Sud – Campo Marconi

Fish Markets, Boat Trips, Beaches and Restaurants

Boat Trips, See the most important local sights from the waterside. From the Piazzetta Vigo, right at the end of Corso del Popolo (Chioggia’s main street). There you can get a tickets for boat trips of varying duration and boat size. Expect around 5-10 euros.

Fish Markets. Being one of the biggest and oldest fishing ports in Italy and operating the biggest number of fishing boats in the country, you can expect Chioggia to be the place for the finest fish and seafood. In fact, it has two markets: serving wholesale and retail.

Mercato Itico, the wholesale fish market is across the large canal San Domenico and occupies 11, 000 square metres, 5000 of which are taken by modern pavilion built in 1960. The boats moor right next to it and you can see the crates with fish being unloaded, complete with seagulls. Walk along the San Domenico canal to see the deep sea fishing boats on one side and a line of eateries on the other,

The  Pescheria retail market, is more centrally located and you will find it between the Piazza and the Vena canal.  It sells all sorts of fish and seafood imaginable and is quite an experience. Note that it shuts in the early afternoon. For an outstanding plate of seafood, try also the restaurants around the retail fish market.

The fabulous beaches of Sottomarina. For a complete contrast to the attractions of Chiogga, walk over the bridge connecting the historical centre to Sottomarina. There you will find the stunning beach, around ten kilometres long and up to 300 metres wide. It stretches from San Felice Fortress, past the River Brenta and continues to the river Adige.  Renowned as one of the first sea bathing establishments in Italy, the place comes alive in summer with its many hotels and camping sites and even in winter, it is used for their daily walk and exercise.

Typical Cuisine. Chioggia offers a delightful culinary experience with its local cuisine of fresh fish and seafood, pasta and other Italian specialties.  There’s a great variety of restaurants to suit every pocket and they’re very competitive; so standards are high.

Try putting “best restaurants for fish and seafood in Chioggia” into you search browser.  This link for Google maps, has some of the most notable eateries showing, You may need to zoom up to get more information.

Chioggia map, Italy, Veneto — Google (satellites.pro)


 

To conclude a poem, reflecting the deep connection between the city’s historical charm and the enduring romance that seems to permeate its very atmosphere; especially within the context of its fishing heritage.

In Veneto’s embrace, by the Adriatic’s grace,
Lies Chioggia, the lagoon’s bride, a serene place.
With canals like veins and streets so quaint,
A tapestry of history, each corner a painted saint.

Once a refuge from barbaric surge,
Now a mosaic of the past, where cultures merge.
From Etruscan hands to Roman Clodia’s stand,
Chioggia rose, by sea’s command.

Salt pans shimmered, the white gold of the tide,
Where fishermen’s nets in the sun would bide.
A city reborn from Pippin’s fiery deed,
Around salt and sea, Chioggia’s creed.

Genoa’s envy, Venice’s might,
Clashed in Chioggia, a fierce naval fight.
The War of Chioggia, a tale so bold,
Where Venetian lions over Genoese waves rolled.

Lacemaking fingers, seafood feasts,
Palio’s echoes, medieval beasts.
Chioggiotti pride, fiery and true,
In July’s Palio, the Middle Ages anew

Italy’s main port, where fishers’ boats dart,
Bearing the sea’s bounty, a thriving art.
Bulk cargo, passengers, a lifeblood’s report,
Chioggia stands proud, a resilient fort.

So here’s to Chioggia, simple and grand,
A slice of Italy, sea-kissed land.
Where history whispers on the breeze,
And life flows as easy as the seas.


 

Links (internalexternal)

“Visit Chiogga” website

City of Chioggia website

Tourist Offices of Chioggia and Sottomarina

 La magnifica Chioggia Sottomarina – YouTube Video

The Venetian Lagoon and its Ecosystem. 

Read all my 21 posts in the category of “Islands of the Lagoon”

“Santa Lucia Train Station”

Piazzale Roma Bus Terminal”

“Venice Vaporetto Guide”


 

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