Have you ever fallen in love with a place at first sight? It happened to me last week. After we'd gone back to Italy, my son and I went back to Eraclea Mare for a week at the sea. We'd been there last year and loved it (see here), but what we didn't realise was that we'd missed the best bit.
Eraclea Mare is situated not far from Venice, along the north west Adriatic coast. You probably know that Venice itself is built on a lagoon, but in fact lagoon areas extend much further up the coast. There is one, for instance at Caorle, where we used to spend our holidays until we discoved Eraclea, made famous by Hemingway who used to go duck shooting there.
Eraclea's lagoon is different. It's smaller - only two square kilometers, is (thankfully) a nature reserve, and until 1935 didn't exist at all.
La Laguna del Mort (Dead Man's Lagoon) was formed when the River Piave, which used to run parallel to the sea for a couple of kilometers, overflowed its right bank, flooded the strip of land between the river and the sea, and changed course overnight, reaching the sea a couple of kilometers further up. The land between the old mouth of the river (pic above) and the new (below) became a lagoon.
Why didn't we explore it last year? Firstly because we had the rest of the area to get to know, and secondly because I was aching too much after a morning on horseback to contemplate the bike riding or walking necessary to get there. This year all the work in the garden in London must have made me fitter - I managed to do both.
From the village you can either cycle through the fields to the far end of the lagoon, or walk along the paths which lead through the sand dunes and pinewoods which border the wetland area. We did both, several times, and in later posts I'll blog about the plants and the wildlife we saw there. But for now, just enjoy the landscape.
Why the name? Not sure. If the net is to be believed there was once a corpse in the lagoon which every so often would rise to the surface to frighten passersby. Hmm - none of the local people seemed to have heard of that one. They appeared to think the "death" referred to the death of the river (though I've translated the name as Dead Man's Lagoon, a more literal translation would be The Lagoon of the Dead One, so it's not impossible). That seems strange though, as the river didn't actually disappear. I'm keeping an open mind.
We were there at the end of the season, and on a cloudy day. We had the place almost to ourselves. The beach however is well-known for being a naturist beach and (again if the net is to be believed) a rather steamy one at that. Oh well, the beach is separated from the lagoon itself by sand dunes and I guess it's big enough for both naturists and naturalists. I for one shall be going back.