Friday, October 25, 2013

Seaside holidays in Bibione

Bibione is a holiday town along the Adriatic coast of Italy, north of Venice. Clear blue waters, beautiful nature and a large variety of seaside fun activities makes Bibione a wonderful holiday destination for persons who like the sea. At the same time, it also provides lots of opportunities to explore Roman, medieval and renaissance culture and architectures in historical small towns around Bibione. (Check the link to "Travels" on this blog and then scroll down to "Travels in Italy" and look at posts about "North-east" to find information about places to visit around Bibione)

Light house, Bibione, Veneto region, Italy - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

Thus if you are planning holidays in Bibione, this post is for you.

I had visited Bibione for the first time in 1982. It was an old swamp-like area till 1960s, while Lignano Sabbia D'oro to the east of Bibione, across the river Tagliamento (behind the light house) was a famous holiday destination. The first houses in Bibione had come up in the eastern part of the beach, the area that is now known as "Lido dei Pini". In the 1970s, my sister-in-law had bought an apartment in that area. Thus, spending some time of our annual summer holidays in Bibione became an annual rite and continues till today.

Since those early days, the city grew, mainly towards the west in areas called Pineta and Lido del Sole, with hundreds of hotels and holiday homes and is now one of the biggest holiday centres in the north of Italy.

Reaching Bibione

The nearest airport is Venice airport about 90 km away. Bibione is connected to Venice and the airport by taxis, boats and buses. The nearest railway station is in Latisana, about 25 km away. Latisana is connected to Bibione by taxis and buses (Image below: Latisana city centre, about 200 meteres from the railway station - here you get the bus for Bibione).

Latisana centre, Veneto region, Italy - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

Just for staying in Bibione you do not need a car, you can walk every where though with the growth of the city, reaching the far end of the new areas in Pineta may need 15-20 minutes of walk. However, if you wish to visit the neighbouring towns such as Caorle, Portogruaro, Splimbergo, Redipuglia Aquileia, Grado and Concordia-Sagittaria, you will need a car. (Check the link to "Italy" on the tab above to find information about places around Bibione)

If you are travelling by car, the nearest highway exit is Latisana (Image below: the roundabout marks the beginning of Bibione, straight and to left takes you to city centre and light house, right to Pineta and Lido del Sole).

Bibione entrance, Veneto region, Italy - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

If you are travelling by car, remember that on the weekends in the peak season (July-August), the traffic can be strong and slow-moving, so keep the gas-tank full and plenty of water or other drinks.

For staying in Bibione, there are lot of options - apartments, independent houses, residences and hotels. Most hotels are close to the sea, while most houses and apartments are more inland, many of them have swimming pools. Bibione is full of agencies that manage rents and buying of properties, especially on the main road, just behind the roundabout shown in the image above. (Image below: independent houses in Bibione in Lido dei Pini)

Houses, Bibione, Veneto region, Italy - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

Fun at the seaside

Personally I am not very fond of lazying around on the beach. I did it when our son was small and he used to love the beach, but now I usually go to the beach only for a swim or an early morning/evening walk. If you plan to spend lot of time on the beach, you may prefer to rent an umbrella and some reclining chairs. Beach is divided into areas, each with its own distinctive colours of umbrella, managed through a kiosk where you can rent per day, per week or for a month.

If you do not mind carrying your own umbrella and chairs, at the extreme edges of the beach, there are some free areas. Apart from the free beaches, there are also places where dogs are allowed near the umbrellas.

Beach, Bibione, Veneto region, Italy - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

Beach, Bibione, Veneto region, Italy - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

Beach, Bibione, Veneto region, Italy - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

The sea round Bibione is wonderfully blue and clean, as can be seen by the growth of clams on the rocks near the light house.

Beach, Bibione, Veneto region, Italy - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

Nature walks

However, Bibione is not just about soaking sun, seaside walks and swims. The surrounding countryside is also good for nature walks and bicycle rides. You will find farmers in the fields, country houses selling fresh vegetables, ducks walking across the path and many horse-rearing places where you can try horse-riding lessons.

Beach, Bibione, Veneto region, Italy - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

Beach, Bibione, Veneto region, Italy - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

Beach, Bibione, Veneto region, Italy - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

Adventure sports or calm, lazy days

If you prefer something more adrenalin stimulating, you can try paddle boats, water-scooters, speed boats, or wind-surfing. Many schools for teaching and renting boats and equipment are based along the seaside.

Beach, Bibione, Veneto region, Italy - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

On the other hand you can also try playing Bocce (bowls) or handball or attending some beach-dance class. Evenings have concerts in the promenade in Piazza Zenith near the sea and some nights have the fireworks displays, usually at midnight.

Beach, Bibione, Veneto region, Italy - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

Beach, Bibione, Veneto region, Italy - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

The city is full of restaurants and pizza take-aways. Around Bibione there are many good places to go out for food. One of our family favourite places is Brussa, about 10 km away from Bibione, going towards Caorle. Brussa has a tiny castle and a fish restaurant called Mazarak. From the unpretentious sleepy family place that served great fish, over the years Mazarak has grown up as a landmark in this area and is usually full. Going to Mazarak and finding the young family members who have now grown up with their own families and children, is our annual ritual.

Beach, Bibione, Veneto region, Italy - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

If you proceed further down the road from Brussa towards the sea, you reach a camping area and a wonderful marine park, Porto Falconera.

The city centre

If you do not wish to go out of the city, you can go for a walk in the city centre, full of shops and amusement arcades for children. Unfortunately the city does not have any public wi-fi hot spots (at least it did not have them when I was there last time), however hotels and many bars and eating places have wi-fi.

Beach, Bibione, Veneto region, Italy - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

Close to the city centre are the fairgrounds that usually have a circus and a big amusement park during the summer.

Beach, Bibione, Veneto region, Italy - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

Conclusions

I have spent so many wonderful days in Bibione going for walks and spending time on photography. To conclude this post I want to share three of my favourite nature shots from Bibione.

Beach, Bibione, Veneto region, Italy - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

Beach, Bibione, Veneto region, Italy - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

Beach, Bibione, Veneto region, Italy - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

One of our family rituals is to get ourselves (I and my wife) photographed in front of the light house. To watch these pictures taken over the past 30 years is wonderful and yet sad. The last picture of this post is from that personal family album.

Beach, Bibione, Veneto region, Italy - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

I hope that you have liked this virtual tour of Bibione and surroundings. If you visit Bibione, please do share your experiences by commenting below.

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Aquileia & Grado: The Roman port and the sun city

Aquileia on the Adriatic coast, north of Venice, was an important Roman city, dating back to 181 AC. Grado, a few kilometres away, is a group of about 90 islands, was used as the port of Aquileia. Rich with history, it is one of the most picturesque places in the region. Grado is also known as "isola del sole" (the sun island). This post is about places to visit in Aquileia and Grado.

Aquileia and Grado - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

If you visiting the Adriatic coast in north-east of Italy for holidays in some seaside town like Lignano, Bibione, Jesolo, Caorle and Portogruaro, then Aquileia and Grado can be visited as a  one day trip.

ROMAN RUINS OF AQUILEIA

Aquileia was founded as a Roman colony in 181 BC for launching military campaigns in the northern and eastern Europe. Around 58 BC, Julius Ceasar established here the Circum Aquileie and it became the administrative capital of the whole region including the ancient Augustea, Venetia and Histria. Throughout the days of expansion of the Roman Empire, Aquileia remained as one of the key Roman centres in north-east of Italy. Around 300 AD, the emperor Maximillian built  a big palace in Aquileia. Many important historical figures stayed in Aquileia, about which you can read in the history books. However, after that period, over the next three hundred years, with the decline of the Roman empire, slowly Aquileia lost its strategic role. In the medieval period, it passed under the Republic of Venice.

The image above as well as the images below show the ruins of old port on the river Natissa and the imperial palaces.

Aquileia and Grado - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

Aquileia and Grado - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

Aquileia and Grado - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

BASILICA OF AQUILEIA

Aquileia has a beautiful basilica church from 11th century. The bell tower of the basilica is visible from far away. The image below shows some vineyards in Aquileia and a view of this bell tower.

Aquileia and Grado - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

The next three images show the exterior of the Basilica.

Aquileia and Grado - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

Aquileia and Grado - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

Aquileia and Grado - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

Outside the basilica, a coloumn carries the statue of a she-wolf feeding two children, the symbol of imperial Rome.

Aquileia and Grado - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

Behind the basilica a path connects this area to the ruins of the old Roman port. This area also has a military cemetery from the first world war.

Aquileia and Grado - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

Aquileia and Grado - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

Inside, the basilica has a thousand years old, wonderful original mosaic floor and frescoes on the walls. A transparent glass pathway allows the visiters to see these mosaics and the frescoes from close without damaging them.

Aquileia and Grado - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

Aquileia and Grado - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

Aquileia and Grado - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

Finally there are other ruins from different periods around Aquileia. You may come across some of them while passing towards Grado.

Aquileia and Grado - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013
THE PORT OF GRADO

Grado is a few kilometres away from Aquileia, going towards the coast. The main island of Grado as well as some of the other islands are connected by bridges. Grado has a beautiful port and nice pathways near the sea.

Aquileia and Grado - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

Aquileia and Grado - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

Aquileia and Grado - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013
OLD CITY OF GRADO

Grado was the Roman port for Aquileia. The city mainly developed round 452 AD. Narrow streets and old houses give this town a characteristic look. It is full of shops and restaurants for tourists. It is a very pleasant place for walks and relaxing.

Aquileia and Grado - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

Aquileia and Grado - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

Aquileia and Grado - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

Aquileia and Grado - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

OTHER PLACES TO SEE IN GRADO

Grado has different churches as well as old buildings that are worth a visit. For example, the church of Sant Eufemia from 579 AD with its bell tower that can see from far away and some Roman ruins in the main street can be worth a visit.

Aquileia and Grado - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

Aquileia and Grado - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

I hope that you liked this short visit to Aquileia and Grado. The two places are rich with history but also have natural beauty.

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Friday, October 11, 2013

Concordia-Sagittaria: In the rise and ebb of history

Concordia-Sagittaria is a tiny city in north-east of Italy, a concentrate of history and full of different archeological places to visit. It illustrates how the rise and ebbs of time change the fortunes of a place and its people. Once an important transit point for the Roman empire, today it is a charming small agricultural town of about ten thousand persons.

Lemene river, Concordia-Sagittaria, Veneto, Italy - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

If you ever come to one of the seaside holiday towns along the northern Adriatic coast of Italy like Jesolo, Caorle, Portogruaro, Bibione and Lignano, you might like to spend a few hours exploring tiny towns like Concordia-Sagittaria. It is just a few kilometres away from Portogruaro.

BEAUTIFUL WALKS

Lemene river that later merges in Livenza river passes through the city centre of Concordia-Sagittaria. The whole area along the river is wonderful for a leisurely walk or a picnic, while admiring the ducks and geese in the water and the beautiful panoramas.

Lemene river, Concordia-Sagittaria, Veneto, Italy - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

CITY CENTRE

The city has  a tiny and quaint centre with its historical municipal building, colourful houses and simple trattorias, for taking a walk and for a relaxed lunch.

City centre, Concordia-Sagittaria, Veneto, Italy - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

City centre, Concordia-Sagittaria, Veneto, Italy - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

HISTORICAL CONCORDIA-SAGITTARIA

However, the most important parts of the city for the visitors are those that give a glimpse of its historical past. Though archeological excavations in the area have shown materials from 9th century BC, the roman city of Iulia Concordia was established in 42 BC at the junction of Postumia road connecting Aquilea port in the east to the Genoa port in the west, and Annia road connecting Itria (Adria) in the north to Padua (Padova) in the south. Thus, Iulia Concordia was an important Roman town for the empire with garrisons of soldiers, big buildings, theatre, stadium and baths.

Over the centuries, the town was destroyed and rebuilt many times. However with the fall of the Roman empire, slowly the town lost its importance. Venice in the east and Genoa in the west developed as independent republics, fighting each other and thus east to west communications on the ancient Postumia were interrupted.

Remains of those Roman times dot the landscape in and around Concordia-Sagittaria with ruins of mosaic floors, amphitheatre, ancient baths and tombs of the soldiers. Most archeological finds from Concordia-Sagittaria are in the national museum in Portogruaro, a few kilometres away. Some of the archeological finds are in the local museum of Concordia-Sagittaria. Many of the places can be visited like the archeological area close to the St. Stephen church (in the image below) near the city centre.

Roman ruins, Concordia-Sagittaria, Veneto, Italy - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

The images below can give you some idea of the Roman ruins around and underneath the church.

Roman ruins, Concordia-Sagittaria, Veneto, Italy - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

Roman ruins, Concordia-Sagittaria, Veneto, Italy - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

Roman ruins, Concordia-Sagittaria, Veneto, Italy - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

Roman ruins, Concordia-Sagittaria, Veneto, Italy - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

Roman ruins, Concordia-Sagittaria, Veneto, Italy - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

MORE RECENT HISTORY

Concordia changed its name and became Concordia-Sagittaria in the 20th century to remember the Roman arrow-manufacturing centre based here between 3rd to 5th  century DC. Arrows ("Sagittae" in Latin, that gives name also to Sagittarius) were for the Roman soldiers.

I could not find who had decided to add the word "Sagittaria" to the city's name and when? Could it have been during the fascist period, when remembering the glorious Roman past was considered important for the nation-building?

The city hosts a famous local fair, "la fiera di Santo Stefano" around the end of July each year, which can be a good time to visit it.

To finish this post, you will find an image of the fifteenth century Romanic Baptistery behind the Santo Stefano church of Concordia-Sagittaria.

Roman ruins, Concordia-Sagittaria, Veneto, Italy - images by Sunil Deepak, 2013

I liked visiting Concordia-Sagittaria though we could not stop there for very long. I was told about the ruins of a Roman amphitheatre just outside the city but we did not go there. So may be, one day we shall go back to visit this history-rich tiny town for a more leisurely visit!

You can look at other places in the region for such one day or half day visits by clicking at the "Travel" tab above.

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