Caorle: What to See and Do

Caorle is a town unique in its kind. Its history and foundation, from the 1st century to the present, are closely linked to fishing and port activities.

The town has Roman origins (its name derives from the Latin Caprulae, probably due to the wild goats that grazed in the forest that once covered the island), confirmed by various archaeological finds recovered from the sea and by the sacrificial altar known as “ara Licovia”, preserved in the Cathedral. The town’s growth was due both to its excellent location, which made it become the seaport of the nearby Concordia (to which Caorle is connected by the Lemene River), and to the depopulation of the hinterland during the barbarian invasions. The town’s growth meant that in the 6th century AD, Caorle became a bishopric seat and one of the 9 districts governed by a Podestà (the administration of the Serenissima divided the territory into districts). In the 14th century AD, pirate raids, invasions by the people of Trieste, and the Genoese incursion of 1379, caused a progressive depopulation.

Many memories of this past remain, the oldest being the Cathedral from 1038 and the Bell Tower. Inside the Cathedral, built with the characteristic austerity and rigour of the Romanesque style, are housed works of considerable interest, such as “The Last Supper”, attributed to the Venetian Gregorio Lazzarini, master of Tiepolo; the “Pala d’Oro”, donated to the city, according to legend, by Caterina Cornaro, Queen of Cyprus, as thanks to the local fishermen who saved her during a shipwreck in 1490, and a small gilded wood “Pietà”. The former episcopal chapel, now a parish museum, houses 6 panels depicting the apostles dating back to the 14th century, attributed to an artist close to Paolo Veneziano, part of an ancient iconostasis placed between the presbytery and the rest of the central nave; the “Reliquary of the Precious Blood”, containing, according to tradition, the earth over which Jesus bled; the Reliquary with the skull of Saint Stephen the Protomartyr, the patron saint of Caorle, and other relics and sacred furnishings. The Bell Tower, built simultaneously with the Cathedral, is also in Romanesque style, cylindrical in shape and topped with a conical spire. Originally it was used as a lookout tower, thanks also to its height of 48 meters. The bell tower has an inclination of 1.4° towards East-South-East.

The Sanctuary of the Madonna dell’Angelo, built in the 17th century on the same spot where a church dedicated to Saint Michael the Archangel originally stood. Tradition has it that some fishermen, while casting their nets, found the statue of the Virgin floating on the sea. They brought it to shore, near the church of the Angel, and the statue thus took the name of “Madonna dell’Angelo”. Based on popular tales, when attempts were made to move it inside the temple, the efforts of the fishermen and the people who rushed were in vain. The bishop then entrusted the task to children who, with their innocence, managed to lift the statue and transport it into the church. The temple’s vault hosts a baroque altar from the Cathedral, a wooden statue of the Virgin with the Child, and a 1500 statue of the Archangel Michael, with scales and sword in hand, in the act of defeating the devil. Every year in Caorle, the “Scogliera Viva” contest is held, with artists from all over the world competing in sculpting the rocks of the seafront.

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