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Jesolo: between river and lagoon

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The image of Jesolo village suspended between river and countryside does not do justice to a unique
geographical configuration where the lagoon of Venice, and particularly its northern appendage, have played a decisive role in shaping the territory of the district of Jesolo. The northern extension of the lagoon and its extensive marshlands, which are used for fish farming (Valle da Pesca), make up the 'other half' of a Jesolo which is historically linked to Venice by the umbilical cord of the 'Litoranea Veneta' - or rather, the first section of this fundamental waterway.
The itinerary ' between river and lagoon', most suited to mountain bike enthusiasts (but not exclusively), explores the geographical links and the age-old bond between man and the lagoon which still distinguish the Jesolo of today.

You will enjoy evocative land- and waterscapes, architecture, place names, flora and fauna on this ride through the salty-tasting environment of this fringe lagoon.


Route:
Jesolo Paese (Village), 'I Salsi', Torre Caligo (tower), Via Lio Mazor, Codetta and back the same way
Departure: Piazza Matteotti (square), Jesolo Paese (village)
Distance: 14,5 km
Duration: 1hr 45'
Note: mountain bikes are recommended for this tour

Setting out from Piazza Matteotti in Jesolo paese, cross the swing bridge and turn right into Via Salsi.
The small metalled lane runs across the thin strip of land known as 'I Salsi', which is enclosed between the right embankment of the Sile-Piave Vecchia river and the northern lagoon - an area perpetually exposed to winds and the infiltration of brackish water.

A brief ride through the suburban landscape of Jesolo then takes you under the new flyover which soars over the river. You pass through a mixture of agricultural and river scenery where you will see a large suspended fishing net on your right, with a backdrop of reeds and shimmering coloured reflections; on the left, modest houses and allotments.

Looking southwest and beyond the strip of cultivated land, you can make out the blue line of the watery horizons of the Valle Dragojesolo, surrounded by barriers of tamarisk trees, and above mallards, seagulls and herons fly over. Once you have passed the water-purifying works at Torre Caligo, the environment becomes more remote.On the river, the pairs of swans, with threatening ritual displays, defend territories whose boundaries are invisible, while moorhens, coots and in winter, little grebes, flock onto the floating islands of vegetation to forage.
A little further on you come to the ruins of the medieval Torre di Caligo (Tower of Caligo), built by the Venetian Republic for military purposes at a site where the Canale Caligo (Caligo Canal) branches out from the Sile-Piave Vecchia river and flows towards Lio Mazor.


It was necessary to protect this 'river crossroads' because of the vital importance of the canal which, during the centuries before the decline and the abandonment of Lio Mazor (1400), was the waterway which linked the Venice lagoon to the River Piave and the mountainous area around it, as well as to the Litoranea Veneta.
What now looks like a little irrigation channel served as a highway of commerce in the Middle Ages, along which rafts floated timber from the Cadore mountain region down to the Arsenale, or shipbuilding yard, of the Venetian Republic.
Turn left at the ruins onto an unsurfaced country track (Via Lio Maggiore) which runs along beside the ancient narrow Canale Caligo where clear currents of spring water flow. You enter a beguiling, solitary landscape, and the green line of the watercourse, accompanied by the bright white strip of the track, wanders through flat and remote scenery. You will pass a few derelict share-croppers homes, then the gates on your left, which close off access to the 'Ghisa', the hunting lodge of Valle Dragojesolo.
In the Canale Caligo, marsh-turtles bask in the sun on the tangled heaps of reeds lying prostrate on the water, while purple herons stand motionless along the banks.


The next stretch is undoubtedly the most pcturesque and enchanting.
The narrow track still follows the Canale Caligo, but the strip of land it winds along tapers, while all around horizons of water and the 'barene' (shoaly wastes) extend their domain.
You approach Codetta, where the narrow strip of land separates the Valli Grassabò (to the north) and Fosse (to the south-east). The prolific bird life becomes an important element of the landscape: white egret, which dance in the shallow expanses of water chasing little crustaceans, the ubiquitos herring gulls with their elegant plumage, the mallard ducks and, in autumn and winter, pochards, teal and pin-tails which join up in rapid flights in formation.
When you reach the gate into Valle Grassabò, the track bends towards the left and proceeds along a narrow dyke suspended above the water.
And so you pedal along the finalstretch of the tour, savouring waterscapes which reflect the sky and listening to the lagoon's myriad of voices.
At the next gate, where the road bends to the right, the excursion is really over, but of course new encounters and stunning views will abound on the return journey.

Credits and Bibliography: Everything reported on this page (textes) is derived, as per kind accordance of the publisher, from the guide 'JESOLO ERACLEA...in bici tra bonifiche e laguna' - Michele Zanetti author - from the Guide Collection PEDALAFACILE, by the Publishing House ACHAB snc
of Mogno Michele & C., via E. Ferrari, 15 30037 - Scorzè - VE
tel +39 041 5845003
fax +39 041 5845007