Hidden away amongst the beautiful waterways of the Po Delta, Comacchio, Italy is one of Italy’s best-hidden secrets, although it’s unlikely to stay secret for too long.
This town on the north-east coast of Italy is often compared to its larger neighbor to the north, Venice.
Indeed, Comacchio is a town that’s renowned for its network of canals, because, like Venice, this town is built on a lagoon, and connected by bridges and waterways.
But Comacchio sees just a fraction of the visitor numbers of Venice, and it makes for a pleasant, historic and spectacularly fascinating destination to visit in Italy.
We won’t lie, it is a destination well off the beaten path, and it will take some effort to get here. But it will be worth it.
Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Italy (Travel Guide)
10 Reasons to Visit Comacchio, Italy
1. The Canals of Commachio, Italy
Comacchio isn’t known as Little Venice for any old reason, but because this is a town that can rival the famous water-based city to the north when it comes to the beauty of the canals that are found here.
In fact, for many centuries, Comacchio was a flourishing port city that rivaled Venice for power and influence in the region. Ultimately though, it was Venice that became the maritime power and Comacchio that fell into relative obscurity in comparison.
The canals though, are truly magnificent, and you can explore the city on gondolas or boats, or simply walk alongside the waterways to see the best that Comacchio has to offer.
You’ll pass by colorful houses, in the shadow of medieval towers and buildings, and be drawn completely into the relaxing travel-style of the locals.
2. The Bridges
Just as impressive as the vast network of canals that crisscross through the town, are the many bridges that span the waterways, connecting one side to another.
Many of these bridges are impressive works of architecture in themselves, and they offer visitors great photographic opportunities, as well as great views along the canals.
The Ponte di San Pietro is a 17th-century bridge spanning the canal that is perfect for sunset, while the Bridge of the Prisons is just as historic, and was the bridge that connected the old prison to the rest of the town, and which criminals were forced to walk over before their incarceration.
The most famous bridge of them all in Comacchio, Italy is Trepponti, which dates back to the early 17th century.
Built at one of the most strategic locations in the town, the bridge was designed not just as a crossing, but as more of a defensive structure.
Trepponti guards the entrance to the town, where the canals meet with the waterway that then leads towards the sea, and for many centuries it served as a great deterrent to pirates and would-be invaders looking to pillage Comacchio’s wealth.
4. The Ancient Delta Museum
To learn more about Comacchio’s fascinating history, then one of the best places to visit in town is the excellent Ancient Delta Museum.
This is one of the best museums in the region, and it delves deep into the ancient world of the Greeks and the Romans who colonized and settled the coast here.
The museum is housed within the historic Ospedale Degli Infermi, an old hospital on the bank of a canal.
Inside, you can find a plethora of artifacts collected from across the ancient world, with the most impressive centerpiece being the vast collection of Roman exhibits that were salvaged from a shipwreck off the coast.
The finds are impressive, and they tell the tale of everyday Roman life in ancient Italy.
5. Palazzo Bellini
The Palazzo Bellini is another of Comacchio’s impressive, historic buildings. The palace was built for one of the town’s richest families in the mid 19th century, but today it serves as a public building.
The Palazzo Bellini is home to a wonderful collection of artwork, and the old palace houses the local Gallery of Contemporary Art within its grand walls, making this a place where old and new meet head-on.
6. Comacchio Cathedral
One of the most important buildings to visit in town is the Comacchio Cathedral. Built between the mid 17th and early 18th centuries, this impressive church is a wonderful example of Romanesque architecture.
There has been a religious site here for centuries too, and as well as Pagan temples, this was where the first churches in Comacchio were built, with the earliest known Christian structure being dated to around the 7th century AD.
7. The Po Delta Regional Park
The Po Delta is one of the real highlights of traveling to Comacchio because there are few other places in Italy that remain so wild and natural.
The Po Delta Regional Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that protects an incredible wetland ecosystem along the coast, that starts on the boundaries of Comacchio.
This is the largest area of protected wetlands in the country, and it’s a place that’s teeming with wildlife. The best way to experience the Po Delta is to join a boat tour, and you can arrange for locals to take you out through the delta, or join an organized tour in advance.
Speed through the marshes as you sit back in a motorized boat and watch the wetlands pass you by.
There are also many hiking trails through the Po Delta too, and this can be a great way to get closer to much of the wildlife, including the local deer, which inhabit the park.
Strap on your hiking boots, and follow the trails through the dense wetlands and swampy marshes, but be careful where you step if you want to stay dry!
8. Birdwatching Tours
The Po Delta is a haven for wildlife, but in particular, it’s best known for being home to a large number of different species of birds, many of which are rare to find elsewhere in Italy.
This is one of the top bird-watching locations in the country and you can join boat trips or hiking excursions to see a vast number of birds in their natural habitats.
9. All the Beaches
Comacchio has a wide range of different landscapes and environments to explore, and as well as being close to Italy’s most impressive system of wetlands, the town is also incredibly close to some of the region’s best beaches.
Known as the Lidos, Comacchio’s beaches are set away from the town and the canals, and offer a pleasant escape along the coast.
There are a total of seven distinct beaches to visit from Comacchio, and you can find them running along the shore, and merging with the wetlands and the Po Delta in some places.
These beaches are wild and raw, and the sandy shores are a beautiful place to visit, with sweeping views over the Adriatic Sea.
10. Comacchio Eel Festival
Comacchio, Italy is famed for its local eels, and for centuries, locals have made a living from the wetlands by fishing for these slippery creatures amongst the reeds and marshes of the lagoons.
This long culinary tradition is celebrated every October when at the start of the month the locals hold the Comacchio Eel Festival.
It’s an exciting time to be in town, as you’ll be able to take part in parties and celebrations as festival-goers enjoy all things eel related.
You can sample local dishes and perhaps even go out with the local eel catchers to see how they are caught.
Commachio, Italy Planning Guide
How to Travel to Comacchio, Italy
Comacchio is located within the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, and specifically within the province of Ferrara.
The town is situated within the Po Delta and is close to the UNESCO World Heritage Site that protects this vast series of wetland habitats that run along the coast, north of Comacchio.
Comacchio, Italy is a small town though, and unfortunately, public transport connections aren’t the best. For anyone looking to get a little off the beaten track though, that’s perfect, because it helps to keep the crowds away from Comacchio.
The easiest way to get here is by car, but if that’s not an option, then you can arrive by bus from Ravenna, or from Ferrara. There’s no train station here, but the nearest station is around 15 miles away, in the town of Ostellato.
The nearest airports are found at Bologna, which is one hour inland, Venice, which is two hours north, or Rimini, which is one and a half hours south.
Best Time of Year to Visit Comacchio, Italy
The most popular time of the year to visit Comacchio, Italy is during the summer high season when all of Italy is at its busiest. The summer season runs from June through to August, and this is a beautiful time of year to visit when the weather is at its hottest.
It’s great if you are looking to enjoy the beaches, and actually, Comacchio can be a great alternative to other destinations such as Venice, which are always far too overcrowded in summer.
If you want to avoid the heat, but still enjoy great weather and few other tourists, then the shoulder months are the best time of year to visit Comacchio, Italy.
Consider traveling here in spring, between March and May, or in fall, between September and November, for hot weather and to enjoy the town with just the locals.
More on Italy:
- 5 of the Best Places to Visit in Italy
- Ultimate 10 Day Italy Itinerary
- Rome to Pompeii: The Best Way to Make it Happen
- The Perfect Tuscany Road Trip Itinerary
- 15 Easy & Amazing Day Trips From Venice
- The Ultimate 3 Days in Rome Itinerary
- 10 Best Day Trips from Rome Worth Taking
- 10 Best Day Trips from Florence Worth the Trip
- Ultimate 3 Days in Florence Itinerary