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Home The Via dei Romei From Pomposa to Ravenna passing through Comacchio and S. Alberto

From Pomposa to Ravenna passing through Comacchio and S. Alberto

The old route between the Veneto region and Ravenna – the current Romea street, the ancient consular Popilia built by the Romans around 132 BC – was abandoned before the 10th century in favor of alternative inland routes, via water and land, preferred by the Romei of the Middle Ages instead of the coastal route which in that period was unhealthy.

 

 Abbazia di Pomposa - Foto by Mario RebeschiniEven so, the Romei also found the comfort and hospitality of the monastic communities cast upon the islands among the fresh and salt waters that characterized the Ferrara coast.

 

Among these, the most important was most certainly the Benedictine Abbey of Pomposa, founded with all likeliness in the 6th century, documented in 874  and reconfirmed in a long series of imperial diplomas in 1022. Even today, in a testimony to its traditional hospitality for pilgrims, significant decorations made with glazed terracotta bowls of various colors can be seen on the façade of the church.

 

The Abbey experienced its greatest prosperity under the governing of the abbot Guido degli Strambiati, later made a saint, who held this position from 1008-1017, from 1019-1036, and from 1038-1046.  In that time period, the colony had an extensive library and an important cultural life. Among its guests, the most famous were Guido D’Arezzo, Pier Damiani and later even Dante Alighieri.

 

The Abbey is a real architectural jewel, with a beautiful bell tower with Lombard forms built in 1063, an atrium decorated with clay friezes, the naves held up with recycled Roman or Byzantine columns, frescoes of the Bologna School of the 1300s and antique floor mosaics placed between the sixth and 12th centuries.

 

About twenty kilometers to the south of Pomposa, the pilgrims reached, among the stretches of water in the marshes, the town of Comacchio. The settlement, already in existence in the late Middle Ages along a road branching out from the Popilia, experienced its greatest splendor between the 7th and 9th centuries, when it had one of the largest flotillas in the Adriatic and was a top salt producer. During the age of the pilgrims, Comacchio had already been occupied and destroyed by the venetians and in 1299 it was once again controlled by the house of the d’Este family of Ferrara.

 

Today, the layout of the historic center of the town is still intact.  Its cathedral dedicated to the patron saint S. Cassiano dates back to 708 AD, but the actual building was erected in the second half of the 17th century (1659). It originally had three naves, now it has a single nave with 12 side chapels, each one dedicated to the much venerated image of Saint Mary in Aula Regia. The presence of this religious building is documented in the 10th century when the monastery held an important role. The actual building dates back to 1665, while the neoclassical façade was built in 1888.

 

The town of  Sant’Alberto was very important in the centuries of our pilgrims, located just south of the Primaro Po, in the hinterland.

In the Middle Ages, it was easy to pass through these areas by boat, after having navigated the Po going towards Ravenna. It is cited in written sources that the origins of the place began in the late Middle Ages (starting in the 11th century) and that its role as a river port along the Primaro Po continued until the 1700s.

 

The there is the monastery of S. Adalberto in the “Perei insula”, which was located in the town of Pero just a few kilometers from the actual town, that had to be able to welcome the Romei.  Furthermore, the church of that monastery was founded in 1001 by the Emperor Otto III, who personally guided a group of monks on a pilgrimage for the part of the journey between the Po and Ravenna.

 

Today the area is still a beautiful natural spot, as demonstrated by the nearby S. Vitale pinewood and the WWF biotype of Punte Alberete.

For tourist information:
Local site: Ferrara

Local site: Ravenna

Last modified Feb 02, 2017

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