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Caorle

With humble beginnings as a fishing village, over the years Caorle grew to become one of the most important cities on the coast, even playing a role in the foundation of Venice. Today, Caorle is a vibrant town devoted to tourism, charming visitors with its colourful houses (much like those in Burano) and a seaside promenade that culminates in the small church of Madonna dell’Angelo.

visitare caorle da Lignano

Caorle is the perfect destination for a day trip from Lignano Sabbiadoro. Head to this seaside town to take in its cultural heritage, and just for a bit of bon vivant enjoyment of life on vacation. 

In Roman times, Caorle was the port of Iulia Concordia and an important commercial hub. During the Hun invasions, its inhabitants took refuge in the islands of the Venetian Lagoon, banding together with other exiles to found the city of Venice. Under the rule of La Serenissima (the Republic of Venice), this fishing village truly reached its apex.

You can get a real sense of Caorle’s history from its monuments and buildings, especially the colourful structures in the old town, where you can have a seat to enjoy a spritz or nibble on a number of traditional local dishes. The surroundings of the town offer splendid glimpses of the lagoon and of pristine nature that has been protected from urban development, such as that in the Natural Oasis of Vallevecchia. 

How to reach Caorle from Lignano Sabbiadoro

By car

Take Via Casa Bianca to leave Lignano and, once past the bridge over the Tagliamento, take local road SP74 towards San Michele al Tagliamento. At the third roundabout, take the third exit towards Lugugnana and head along SP42 until the following roundabout. Take local road SP59 at the third exit and continue straight until you reach Caorle.

Travel time: 45 minutes 

8 things to see and do in and around Caorle

1. Visit the multicoloured old town

Caorle may seem like a little Venice to first-time visitors, but long ago it was even more so: the roads you see today were once canals! One striking example is Rio Terrà, the main road in the heart of the old town of Caorle. The street branches off into small alleyways lined by brightly painted houses and picturesque scenes. 

Get lost in the streets of the city, following the aroma of fish dishes coming from local osterias and restaurants, take in the sight of a few squares where luxuriant balconies overflow with thriving flowers, or head down the seaside promenade to admire the shimmering surface of the waves on the shore. These and many other don’t-miss experiences await in nearby Caorle. 

2. Visit the Sanctuary of Madonna dell’Angelo

In the heart of Caorle, dividing the Ponente and Levante beaches, is the Sanctuary of Madonna dell’Angelo. Sitting atop a small promontory, this church looks out onto the sea and can be reached via the picturesque raised promenade, which offers a relaxing view of the sea. Over the years, the church has become a pilgrimage site not just for locals devoted to the Virgin Mary, but also for many believers from around the world.

As you walk down the seaside promenade towards the church, you can admire Scogliera Viva, a project that involves the customization of the rocks along the shore by artists from around the globe.

Every five years, an impressive traditional procession is held, colouring the city white and light blue, the hues of the Virgin Mary. 

3. Visit the cathedral and climb up its bell tower

The Cathedral of Caorle was built on the ruins of a pre-existing early Christian basilica. Inside, you can admire the blending of Romanesque and Ravenna-like Byzantine style architecture in the nave, which is divided into three aisles by columns supporting round arches. 

Any visit to the Cathedral isn't complete without a trip up to the top of the round bell tower - which extends upwards in the square in front of the church - and a visit to the Liturgical Museum, where sacred vestments and precious reliquaries objects are stored.

By contacting the parish directly, you can take part in a guided tour of the cathedral, museum, bell tower and the Sanctuary of Madonna dell'Angelo (limited to groups of 10 people max).

porto caorle

4. Go for a stroll along the fishing port

The fishing port is immediately visible once you enter the seaside town: docked at its quays, fishing boats dot the waters. In the dark of night, fishermen set out on their trusted vessels to fish at sea, returning to port in the morning with their catch of fresh fish. 

Walking along the docks, you’ll meet fishermen storing and repairing their nets or unloading the catch of the day. 

Lastly, where the fishing port meets the old town, you’ll find the local fish market. However, it’s only open to fishermen, traders, chefs and restaurant owners who, with a traditional auction system that consists of whispering their offer in the ear of the seller, bid on freshly caught fish.  

5. Taste the delights of local cuisine

As a fishing town, little Caorle has rather impressive culinary traditions. The cuisine of Caorle has a lot in common with the gastronomic traditions of the other coastal towns clustered around Venice, with local variations that make it a unique culinary experience. 

The ‘king’ of Caorle cuisine is what locals call the moscardino, a small musky octopus that is often simply eaten boiled and dressed with oil and lemon, though it can be served in plenty of other flavourful ways.

The traditional dishes of Caorle also include broeto de seppe, a cuttlefish soup with a tomato broth, canoce - mantis shrimp served in a sauce, spaghetti with zotoi (baby squid), sarde in saor (sardines with sweet and sour onions), or the traditional fish fry eaten directly from a paper cone as you walk around the city. 

6. Discover the ‘casoni’

Not far from the old town of Caorle, where dry land meets the lagoon, you’ll find what are called casoni, which translates to ‘large houses’, the traditional dwellings of fishermen during winter.

These wood and cane structures were built on swamplands, and though they have lost their original purpose today, they are still carefully maintained by their owners and often used as locations for trips to the countryside with family and friends, perhaps to get away of the crowds of tourists on the beaches in summer, enjoying the peace and quiet of the lagoon. 

7. A walk in the Natural Oasis of Vallevecchia

Beyond the eastern edge of Levante beach, on the other side of the Nicesolo Canal, is Brussa beach and, beyond that, the Natural Oasis of Vallevecchia.

This portion of protected land, safeguarded from tourism and urban development, is a veritable oasis in which you can walk along the natural dunes that traditionally form on the sandy beaches of the upper Adriatic coast, or in the pine forest, where native plants and flowers grow and local wildlife lives. 

The Oasis’s trails can be enjoyed by bicycle or on foot and in summer you can easily get to the nearby town of Bibione from the Oasis thanks to a convenient ferry called X Lagoon that transports both pedestrians and cyclists with their bicycles. 

The Vallevecchia Natural Museum is currently being remodelled and modernized.

8. The countryside of Ca’ Corniani by bicycle

Just a stone’s throw from Caorle, the rural village of Ca’ Corniani is a fine example of private reclamation work done in the saltmarshes of the Veneto dating back to the 1800s. 

Today, in addition to being a large farm, Ca’ Corniani is a veritable centre of experimentation in terms of technology and productivity in a rural context. Not only that, but the entire area round Ca’ Corniani is encompassed by an interesting project embraces agriculture, art and culture. 

On extensive property of Ca’ Corniani, 32 km of cycling and foot paths are being planned, winding through the farm and its borders, marked by pollinator strips blooming with poppy and camomile flowers.
Currently the first 10 km have been completed, easily reached from nearby Caorle and connected to the pre-existing GiraLivenza route and the Ciclostazione, which offers bicycle rentals and a rest area - the perfect place to freshen up and perhaps grab a snack after a long bicycle ride.