Venetian Lagoon
Overview
 
The Venetian Lagoon is the enclosed bay of the Adriatic Sea
Adriatic Sea
The Adriatic Sea is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkan peninsula, and the system of the Apennine Mountains from that of the Dinaric Alps and adjacent ranges...

 in which the city of Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

 is situated. Its name in the Venetian
Venetian language
Venetian or Venetan is a Romance language spoken as a native language by over two million people, mostly in the Veneto region of Italy, where of five million inhabitants almost all can understand it. It is sometimes spoken and often well understood outside Veneto, in Trentino, Friuli, Venezia...

 language, Laguna Veneta— cognate of Latin lacus, "lake"— has provided the international name for an enclosed, shallow embayment of saltwater, a lagoon
Lagoon
A lagoon is a body of shallow sea water or brackish water separated from the sea by some form of barrier. The EU's habitat directive defines lagoons as "expanses of shallow coastal salt water, of varying salinity or water volume, wholly or partially separated from the sea by sand banks or shingle,...

.

The Venetian Lagoon stretches from the River Sile in the north to the Brenta
Brenta
Brenta may refer to:* Brenta , Italy* Brenta Valley* Brenta Group* Brenta, Lombardy...

 in the south, with a surface area of around 550 km² (212 sq.
Encyclopedia
The Venetian Lagoon is the enclosed bay of the Adriatic Sea
Adriatic Sea
The Adriatic Sea is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkan peninsula, and the system of the Apennine Mountains from that of the Dinaric Alps and adjacent ranges...

 in which the city of Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

 is situated. Its name in the Venetian
Venetian language
Venetian or Venetan is a Romance language spoken as a native language by over two million people, mostly in the Veneto region of Italy, where of five million inhabitants almost all can understand it. It is sometimes spoken and often well understood outside Veneto, in Trentino, Friuli, Venezia...

 language, Laguna Veneta— cognate of Latin lacus, "lake"— has provided the international name for an enclosed, shallow embayment of saltwater, a lagoon
Lagoon
A lagoon is a body of shallow sea water or brackish water separated from the sea by some form of barrier. The EU's habitat directive defines lagoons as "expanses of shallow coastal salt water, of varying salinity or water volume, wholly or partially separated from the sea by sand banks or shingle,...

.

The Venetian Lagoon stretches from the River Sile in the north to the Brenta
Brenta
Brenta may refer to:* Brenta , Italy* Brenta Valley* Brenta Group* Brenta, Lombardy...

 in the south, with a surface area of around 550 km² (212 sq. miles). It is around 8% land, including Venice itself and many smaller islands. About 11% is permanently covered by open water, or canal
Canal
Canals are man-made channels for water. There are two types of canal:#Waterways: navigable transportation canals used for carrying ships and boats shipping goods and conveying people, further subdivided into two kinds:...

, as the network of dredged channels are called, while around 80% consists of mud flats, tidal shallows and salt marsh
Salt marsh
A salt marsh is an environment in the upper coastal intertidal zone between land and salt water or brackish water, it is dominated by dense stands of halophytic plants such as herbs, grasses, or low shrubs. These plants are terrestrial in origin and are essential to the stability of the salt marsh...

es. The lagoon is the largest wetland
Wetland
A wetland is an area of land whose soil is saturated with water either permanently or seasonally. Wetlands are categorised by their characteristic vegetation, which is adapted to these unique soil conditions....

 in the Mediterranean Basin
Mediterranean Basin
In biogeography, the Mediterranean Basin refers to the lands around the Mediterranean Sea that have a Mediterranean climate, with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers, which supports characteristic Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub vegetation...

.

It is connected to the Adriatic Sea
Adriatic Sea
The Adriatic Sea is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkan peninsula, and the system of the Apennine Mountains from that of the Dinaric Alps and adjacent ranges...

 by three inlet
Inlet
An inlet is a narrow body of water between islands or leading inland from a larger body of water, often leading to an enclosed body of water, such as a sound, bay, lagoon or marsh. In sea coasts an inlet usually refers to the actual connection between a bay and the ocean and is often called an...

s: the Lido, Malamocco
Malamocco
Malamocco is one of the three narrow inlets in the enclosing coastal dune bar that connect the Venetian Lagoon with the Adriatic Sea, together with the Lido and Chioggia inlets...

 and Chioggia
Chioggia
Chioggia is a coastal town and comune of the province of Venice in the Veneto region of northern Italy.-Geography:...

 inlets. Sited at the end of a largely enclosed sea, the lagoon is subject to high variations in water level, the most extreme being the spring tides known as the acqua alta
Acqua alta
Acqua alta is the term used in Veneto for the exceptional tide peaks that occur periodically in the northern Adriatic Sea....

(Italian for "high waters"), which regularly flood much of Venice.

The nearby Grado-Marano lagoon, with a surface area of around 160 km², is the northernmost lagoon in the Adriatic Sea. The Lagoon of Venice is the most important survivor of a system of estuarine
Estuary
An estuary is a partly enclosed coastal body of water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea....

 lagoons that in Roman times extended from Ravenna
Ravenna
Ravenna is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and the second largest comune in Italy by land area, although, at , it is little more than half the size of the largest comune, Rome...

 north to Trieste
Trieste
Trieste is a city and seaport in northeastern Italy. It is situated towards the end of a narrow strip of land lying between the Adriatic Sea and Italy's border with Slovenia, which lies almost immediately south and east of the city...

. In the sixth century, the Lagoon gave security to Romanised people fleeing invaders (mostly the Huns
Huns
The Huns were a group of nomadic people who, appearing from east of the Volga River, migrated into Europe c. AD 370 and established the vast Hunnic Empire there. Since de Guignes linked them with the Xiongnu, who had been northern neighbours of China 300 years prior to the emergence of the Huns,...

). Later, it provided naturally protected conditions for the growth of the Venetian Republic and its maritime empire
Thalassocracy
The term thalassocracy refers to a state with primarily maritime realms—an empire at sea, such as Athens or the Phoenician network of merchant cities...

. It still provides a base for a seaport, the Venetian Arsenal
Venetian Arsenal
The Venetian Arsenal was a complex of state-owned shipyards and armories clustered together in Venice in northern Italy. It was responsible for the bulk of Venice's naval power during the middle part of the second millennium AD...

, and for fishing
Fishing
Fishing is the activity of trying to catch wild fish. Fish are normally caught in the wild. Techniques for catching fish include hand gathering, spearing, netting, angling and trapping....

, as well as a limited amount of hunting
Hunting
Hunting is the practice of pursuing any living thing, usually wildlife, for food, recreation, or trade. In present-day use, the term refers to lawful hunting, as distinguished from poaching, which is the killing, trapping or capture of the hunted species contrary to applicable law...

 and the newer industry of fish farming
Fish farming
Fish farming is the principal form of aquaculture, while other methods may fall under mariculture. Fish farming involves raising fish commercially in tanks or enclosures, usually for food. A facility that releases young fish into the wild for recreational fishing or to supplement a species'...

.

The Lagoon was formed about six to seven thousand years ago, when the marine transgression following the Ice Age
Ice age
An ice age or, more precisely, glacial age, is a generic geological period of long-term reduction in the temperature of the Earth's surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental ice sheets, polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers...

 flooded the upper Adriatic coastal plain. Deposition of river sediments compensated for the sinking coastal plain, and coastwise drift from the mouth of the Po
Po River
The Po |Ligurian]]: Bodincus or Bodencus) is a river that flows either or – considering the length of the Maira, a right bank tributary – eastward across northern Italy, from a spring seeping from a stony hillside at Pian del Re, a flat place at the head of the Val Po under the northwest face...

 tended to close tidal inlets with sand bars.

The present aspect of the Lagoon is due to human intervention. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Venetian hydraulic projects to prevent the lagoon from turning into a marsh reversed the natural evolution of the Lagoon. Pumping of aquifer
Aquifer
An aquifer is a wet underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock or unconsolidated materials from which groundwater can be usefully extracted using a water well. The study of water flow in aquifers and the characterization of aquifers is called hydrogeology...

s since the nineteenth century has increased subsidence. Originally many of the Lagoon’s islands were marshy, but a gradual programme of drainage rendered them habitable. Many of the smaller islands are entirely artificial, while some areas around the seaport of the Mestre
Mestre
Mestre is a city part of the comune of Venice, in Veneto, northern Italy.The city is connected to Venice by a large rail and road bridge, called Ponte della Libertà ....

 are also reclaimed islands. The remaining islands are essentially dune
Dune
In physical geography, a dune is a hill of sand built by wind. Dunes occur in different forms and sizes, formed by interaction with the wind. Most kinds of dunes are longer on the windward side where the sand is pushed up the dune and have a shorter "slip face" in the lee of the wind...

s, including those of the coastal strip (Lido, Pellestrina
Pellestrina
Pellestrina is an island in northern Italy, forming a barrier between the southern Venetian Lagoon and the Adriatic Sea, lying south west of the Lido....

 and Treporti).
The largest islands or archipelagos by area, excluding coastal reclaimed land and the coastal barrier beaches:
  • Venice
    Venice
    Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

     5.17 km²
  • Sant'Erasmo
    Sant'Erasmo
    Sant'Erasmo is an island in the Venetian Lagoon lying north of the Lido and north east of Venice, Italy.The island was a port attached to Murano in the 8th century, but is now known for market gardening. Ruined fortifications, including the so-called Torre Massimiliana , ring the isle. Forts...

     3.26 km²
  • Murano
    Murano
    Murano is a series of islands linked by bridges in the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy. It lies about 1.5 km north of Venice and measures about across with a population of just over 5,000 . It is famous for its glass making, particularly lampworking...

     1.17 km²
  • Chioggia
    Chioggia
    Chioggia is a coastal town and comune of the province of Venice in the Veneto region of northern Italy.-Geography:...

     0.67 km²
  • Giudecca
    Giudecca
    Giudecca is an island in the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy. It is part of the sestiere of Dorsoduro. It is a locality of the comune of Venice.-Geography:...

     0.59 km²
  • Mazzorbo
    Mazzorbo
    Mazzorbo is an island in the northern Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy, linked to Burano by a bridge. It was once an important trading centre but is now known for its vineyards and orchards. Its main attraction is the fourteenth century Church of Santa Caterina, and there is also a brightly...

     0.52 km²
  • Torcello
    Torcello
    Torcello is a quiet and sparsely populated island at the northern end of the Venetian Lagoon. It is considered the oldest continuously populated region of Venice, and once held the largest population of the Republic of Venice.-History:...

     0.44 km²
  • Sant'Elena
    Sant'Elena
    Sant'Elena is an island of Venice. It lies at the eastern tip of the main island group and forms part of sestiere of Castello. The original island was separated by an arm of the Venetian Lagoon from Venice itself, and was centred on the Church of Sant'Elena and its monastery, originally built in...

     0.34 km²
  • La Certosa
    La Certosa
    La Certosa is an island in the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy. It is located north-west of Venice, less than 250 meters from San Pietro di Castello and little more than 500 meters from the Venice; a ca. 20 m-wide channel separates it from the Vignole island...

     0.24 km²
  • Burano
    Burano
    Burano is an island in the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy; like Venice itself, it could more correctly be called an archipelago of four islands linked by bridges...

     0.21 km²
  • Tronchetto
    Tronchetto
    Tronchetto is an artificial island in the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy, located at the westernmost tip of the main Venice island....

     0.18 km²
  • Sacca Fisola
    Sacca Fisola
    Sacca Fisola is an artificial island in the Venetian Lagoon. It is a largely modern residential area.-Geography:Sacca Fisola lies at the western end of the Giudecca - to which it is connected by bridge - and north of Sacca San Biagio. It is home to a public swimming pool.-Notes and references:...

     0.18 km²
  • San Michele
    Isola di San Michele
    San Michele is an island in the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy.Originally a prison island, Napoleon's occupying forces decreed that Venetians could not bury their deceased on any of the main Venetians islands, but only on San Michele...

     0.16 km²
  • Sacca Sessola
    Sacca Sessola
    Sacca Sessola is an island in the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy.One of the biggest in the Lagoon , it was created in the 1870 with materials from the construction of the Santa Marta commercial port. It was destined to use as a fuel depot, but later was turned to agriculture....

     0.16 km²
  • Santa Cristina
    Santa Cristina
    Santa Cristina can refer to:Places*Santa Cristina d'Aro, Spain*Santa Cristina de Valmadrigal, Spain*Santa Cristina de la Polvorosa, Spain*Santa Cristina Gela, Sicily, Italy*Santa Cristina e Bissone, Lombardy, Italy...

     0.13 km²


Other inhabited islands include:
  • Cavallino
  • Lazzaretto Nuovo
  • Lazzaretto Vecchio
    Lazzaretto Vecchio
    The Lazzaretto Vecchio is an island of the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy, located near the Lido of Venice. Between 1403 and 1630 it housed a hospital which cared for people during the plague epidemics. It was later used, as were other islands, as a military post...

  • Lido
  • Pellestrina
    Pellestrina
    Pellestrina is an island in northern Italy, forming a barrier between the southern Venetian Lagoon and the Adriatic Sea, lying south west of the Lido....

  • Poveglia
    Poveglia
    Poveglia is a small island located between Venice and Lido in the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy. A small canal divides the island into two parts. It is off-limits to visitors.-History:...

  • San Clemente
  • San Francesco del Deserto
    San Francesco del Deserto
    San Francesco del Deserto is an island in the Venetian Lagoon, with a surface of some 4 ha. It is located between Sant'Erasmo and Burano. It houses a minorites convent.-History:...

  • San Giorgio in Alga
    San Giorgio in Alga
    San Giorgio in Alga is an island of the Venetian lagoon, northern Italy, laying between the Giudecca and Fusina .-History:...

  • San Giorgio Maggiore
    San Giorgio Maggiore
    San Giorgio Maggiore is one of the islands of Venice, northern Italy, lying east of the Giudecca and south of the main island group. The isle is surrounded by Canale della Grazia, Canale della Giudecca, Saint Mark Basin, Canale di San Marco and the southern lagoon...

  • San Lazzaro degli Armeni
    San Lazzaro degli Armeni
    San Lazzaro degli Armeni is a small island in the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy, lying immediately west of the Lido; completely occupied by a monastery that is the mother-house of the Mekhitarist Order, the island is one of the world's foremost centers of Armenian culture.- Background :The...

  • Santa Maria della Grazia
    Santa Maria della Grazia
    Santa Maria della Grazia or La Grazia is an artificial island of the Venetian lagoon, northern Italy, which lies between the Giudecca and San Clemente. It rose during the Middle Ages in the place where Venice’s rubble was discarded up...

  • San Pietro di Castello
  • San Servolo
    San Servolo
    San Servolo is an Italian island in the Venetian Lagoon, to the southeast of San Giorgio Maggiore.- History :Benedictine monks lived on this island from at least the eighth century and for almost five hundred years. They were joined later by nuns escaping from the convents of Saints Leone and...

  • Santo Spirito
  • Sottomarina
    Sottomarina
    Sottomarina is an Italian town of Roman origin. It is a frazione of the comune of Chioggia, which is part of the province of Venice in the Veneto region of northern Italy. Like Venice, it is an island cut into pieces by canals, and it has bridges to bring the island together...

  • Vignole
    Vignole
    Vignole is an island in the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy, with a surface of some 69.20 ha. It is located north-west to Venice, between the Sant'Erasmo and La Certosa islands. Vignole is actually formed by the two distinct islands, connected by a bridge.Like Sant'Erasmo, it houses a scanty...


Further reading

  • Horatio Brown
    Horatio Brown
    Horatio Robert Forbes Brown was a Scottish historian who specialized in the history of Venice and Italy.Born in Nice, he grew up in Midlothian, Scotland, was educated in England at Clifton and Oxford, and spent most of his life in Venice, publishing several books about the city...

    , Life on the Lagoons
    Life on the Lagoons
    Life on the Lagoons, which deals with the history and topography of the watery area around the city of Venice, is the first book by the Scottish historian Horatio Brown....

    (1884, 1900, 1904, & 1909; paperback, 2008)

External links

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