The lagoon of Grado is situated in the Upper Adriatic which extends from the mouth of the Isonzo River as far as the Island of Anfora, at the height of the mouths of the Ausa and Corno rivers.
The lagoon which covers a surface area of approximately 90 square kilometres, is divided into an eastern sector (palù de sora) and a western one (palù de soto) from the dam on which the road that connects Grado to the mainland unwinds.
The origins of the lagoon are recent. Until the V century the mainland prevailed on the area, as proven my numerous archaeological findings, among which the Roman road, now completely covered by water, which connected Aquileia to its port of Grado.
The feature of the lagoon are the casoni, simple homes with thatched roofs and door facing the west, used in the past by the fishermen of Grado.
From a naturalistic point of view, the lagoon the lagoon is full of tree species, and in particular of tamarisk, elm, poplar, juniper and pine trees. The fauna has a large variety of birds, including gulls, egrets, herons, ducks and terns. Fish farming is very significant, with the presence of several fishing ponds.
The typical boat of the inhabitants of the lagoon is the batèla, flat bottomed and manoeuvred by oars. The batèla, normally 5 to 10 metres long, is operated by a rower standing at the stern and can also have a mast.
The lagoon, which borders to the west with the Marano lagoon, is crossed longitudinally by the Venetian coastal waterway, a waterway that connects Venice with the mouth of the Isonzo and Trieste.
The western lagoon (palù de soto) is the most extensive and has the most islands. In the past it was crossed by waterways that connected Grado to the port system of Aquileia, as it has been recently highlighted by the discovery of a Roman cargo ship of the I century AD.
It is crossed by numerous canals, along which are the main islands. Among them it is possible to recall the small San Pietro d’Orio, near Grado, which was the seat of a monastery, Ravaiarina, for centuries, and today has fishing ponds and accommodation, and Gorgo (former Saints Cosma and Damiano), which housed a church in the past, and during the first World War, an Italian air base.
Moving away from Grado and heading toward the lagoon of Marano, you come across, among others, the island of Morgo, very lengthy and well-known in the past for its agricultural production, and the island of belli, which owes its name to the legendary witch Bela, that confounded the sailors. The westernmost island is Anfora, which gained strategic importance in 1866, when it marked the border between Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which provided it with a small barracks. Today it houses the small town of Porto Buso.
The eastern lagoon (palù de sora) is the most recent and the less deep.
Compared to the western lagoon it has fewer islands: among which Barbana stands out which has housed an ancient shrine sanctuary for about 1500 years and has been permanently inhabited by a community of Franciscan friars. Every year the island is the destination of the “Perdòn di Barbana”, a pilgrimage that takes place on the first Sunday in July and includes a procession of flagged boats in the lagoon from Grado to Barbana.
Also the island of Schiusa falls into the eastern lagoon, recently created with landfilling material and now totally urbanized and integrated with Grado, to which it is connected by two bridges, one for pedestrian use only.