Island of the Sun

HISTORY

In Roman times the city, known as ad Aquae Gradatae, was first port for ships entering the Natissa (Natisone), headed upstream to Aquileia.

Quite close is the ancient Roman city of Aquileia; during the late years of the Western Roman Empire many people fled from Aquileia to Grado in order to find a safer place, more protected from the invasions coming from the east. In 452, Nicetas, Bishop of Aquileia, took refuge briefly at Grado; of the same period is the earliest construction of Grado’s first Cathedral, the first church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, and the Baptistery. Grado was the home base of the Patriarchate’s fleet.

In 568, after the invasion of the Lombards, the seat of the Patriarchate of Aquileia was transferred here by the Patriarch Paulinus. After the Schism of the Three Chapters, two different Patriarchs were elected: the Patriarch of Grado exerted its jurisdiction over the Latin-origin people living in the coast and in the Venetian Lagoon, while that of Old-Aquileia, later moved to Cividale, had its jurisdiction on the mainland.

A long lasting dispute over the authority of the two patriarchs ensued: in 993 the patriarch of Aquileia, Popo, conquered Grado, but was unable to keep possession of it. The matter was settled only in 1027 when the Pope declared the supremacy of the seat of Aquileia over Grado and the Venetian province. The seat of the Patriarchate was transferred to Venice in 1451 by Pope Nicholas V. Reduced to a minor hamlet, Grado was sacked by the English in 1810 and by the French in 1812. Grado was acquired by Austria in 1815, to which it belonged until 1918, when it was returned to Italy after its victory in World War I.

 

LA LAGUNA

La laguna si è formata dopo il V secolo ed è divisa in un settore occidentale (la palù de soto), più esteso e ricco di isole, ed in uno orientale (la palù de sora), che si estende a nord dell’isola di Grado.
Caratteristica della laguna è la presenza dei casoni, semplici abitazioni con tetto di paglia utilizzate in passato dai pescatori gradesi. L’imbarcazione tipica degli abitanti della laguna è la “batèla”, a fondo piatto e manovrata a remi.
La laguna è ricca di essenze arboree (tamerici, olmi, pioppi, ginepri e pini), mentre la fauna presenta una notevole varietà di volatili, tra i quali gabbiani, garzette, aironi cinerini, germani reali e rondini di mare. Alcune isole sono abitate in modo stabile: tra queste, Barbana ospita da 1500 anni un santuario mariano.