Venetian Lagoon

The Venetian Lagoon (Italian: Laguna di Venezia; Venetian: Łaguna de Venesia) is an enclosed bay of the Adriatic Sea, in northern Italy, in which the city of Venice is situated. Its name in the Italian and Venetian languages, Laguna Veneta—cognate of Latin lacus, "lake"—has provided the english name for an enclosed, shallow embayment of salt water, a lagoon.

Venetian Lagoon
Venice and Porto di Lido as seen from the air
Aerial view of the Venetian Lagoon, showing many of the islands including Venice itself, center rear, with the bridge to the mainland
LocationVenice, Veneto, Italy
Coordinates45°24′47″N 12°17′50″E / 45.41306°N 12.29722°ECoordinates: 45°24′47″N 12°17′50″E / 45.41306°N 12.29722°E
Primary outflowsAdriatic Sea
Basin countriesItaly
Surface area550 square kilometres (210 sq mi)
Average depth10.5 metres (34 ft)
Max. depth21.5 metres (71 ft)
Surface elevation3 m (9.8 ft)
SettlementsVenice, Campagna Lupia, Cavallino-Treporti, Chioggia, Codevigo, Jesolo, Mira, Musile di Piave, Quarto d'Altino, San Donà di Piave
Official nameLaguna di Venezia: Valle Averto
Designated11 April 1989
Reference no.423[1]


Venice Lagoon December 9 2001
The Venetian Lagoon
The island of Torcello seen from the Lagoon at low tide

The Venetian Lagoon stretches from the River Sile in the north to the Brenta in the south, with a surface area of around 550 square kilometres (212 square miles). It is around 8% land, including Venice itself and many smaller islands. About 11% is permanently covered by open water, or canal, as the network of dredged channels are called, while around 80% consists of mud flats, tidal shallows and salt marshes. The lagoon is the largest wetland in the Mediterranean Basin.[2]

It is connected to the Adriatic Sea by three inlets: Lido, Malamocco and Chioggia. Sited at the end of a largely enclosed sea, the lagoon is subject to high variations in water level,[3] the most extreme being the spring tides known as the acqua alta (Italian for "high water"), which regularly flood much of Venice.

The nearby Marano-Grado Lagoon, with a surface area of around 160 square kilometres (62 square miles), is the northernmost lagoon in the Adriatic Sea and is called sometimes the "twin sister of the Venice lagoon".


The Lagoon of Venice is the most important survivor of a system of estuarine lagoons that in Roman times extended from Ravenna north to Trieste. In the sixth century, the Lagoon gave security to Romanised people fleeing invaders (mostly the Huns). Later, it provided naturally protected conditions for the growth of the Venetian Republic and its maritime empire. It still provides a base for a seaport, the Venetian Arsenal, and for fishing, as well as a limited amount of hunting and the newer industry of fish farming.

The Lagoon was formed about six to seven thousand years ago, when the marine transgression following the Ice Age flooded the upper Adriatic coastal plain.[a] Deposition of river sediments compensated for the sinking coastal plain, and coastwise drift from the mouth of the Po tended to close tidal inlets with sand bars.

2001-NASA-Satellitenaufnahme Venedig
Venetian lagoon from above

The present aspect of the Lagoon is due to human intervention. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Venetian hydraulic projects to prevent the lagoon from turning into a marsh reversed the natural evolution of the Lagoon. Pumping of aquifers since the nineteenth century has increased subsidence. Originally many of the Lagoon's islands were marshy, but a gradual programme of drainage rendered them habitable. Many of the smaller islands are entirely artificial, while some areas around the seaport of the Mestre are also reclaimed islands. The remaining islands are essentially dunes, including those of the coastal strip (Lido, Pellestrina and Treporti).

Venice Lagoon was inhabited from the most ancient times, but it was only during and after the fall of the Western Roman Empire that many people, coming from the Venetian mainland, settled in a number large enough to found the city of Venice. Today, the main cities inside the lagoon are Venice (at the centre of it) and Chioggia (at the southern inlet); Lido di Venezia and Pellestrina are inhabited as well, but they are part of Venice. However, the most part of the inhabitants of Venice, as well as its economic core, its airport and its harbor, stand on the western border of the lagoon, around the former towns of Mestre and Marghera. At the northern end of the lagoon, there is the town of Jesolo, a famous sea resort; and the town of Cavallino-Treporti.


Occasionally, bottlenose dolphins enter the lagoon, possibly for feeding.[5]

The level of pollution in the lagoon has long been a concern[6][7] The large phytoplankton and macroalgae blooms of the late 1980s proved particularly devastating.[8][9] Researchers have identified the lagoon as one of the primary areas where non-indigenous species are introduced into the Mediterranean Sea.[10][11]


The Venice Lagoon is mostly included in the Metropolitan City of Venice, but the south-western area is part of the Province of Padua.

The Venetian Lagoon Islands

The largest islands or archipelagos by area, excluding coastal reclaimed land and the coastal barrier beaches:

San Lazzaro degli Armeni, Venice aerial photo 2013
San Lazzaro degli Armeni, has been an important center of Armenian culture for around 300 years.

Other inhabited islands include:

See also


  1. ^ This geological history follows Brambati et al. (2003).[4]


  1. ^ "Laguna di Venezia: Valle Averto". Ramsar Sites Information Service. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  2. ^ Poggioli, Sylvia (7 January 2008). "MOSE Project Aims to Part Venice Floods". Morning Edition (Radio program). NPR.
  3. ^ "Venice, Italy (1985-2003) - 25 Years of Landsat 5 - Landsat 5 showcase - Earth Watching". Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  4. ^ Brambati, Antonio; Carbognin, Laura; Quaia, Tullio; Teatini, Pietro & Tosi, Luigi (2003). "The Lagoon of Venice: Geological Setting, Evolution and Land Subsidence" (PDF). Episodes. 26 (3): 264–268.
  5. ^ Ferretti, Sabrina; Bearzi, Giovanni. "Rare Report of a Bottlenose Dolphin Foraging in the Venice Lagoon, Italy" (PDF). Tethys Research Institute. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 15 March 2015. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. ^ Grancini, Gianfranco & Cescon, Bruno (1971). "Observations of Dispersal Processes of Pollutants in Venice Lagoon and in the Po River Coastal Area". Liège Colloquium on Ocean Hydrodynamics. Société Royale des Sciences de Liège. 2: 99–110.
  7. ^ Lasserre, Pierre; Marzollo, Angelo, eds. (2000). The Venice Lagoon Ecosystem: Inputs and Interactions Between Land and Sea. Man and the Biosphere Series. 25. Paris: Parthenon. ISBN 978-92-3-103595-1.
  8. ^ Sfriso, A.; Pavoni, B.; Marcomini, A. & Orio, A. A. (1992). "Macroalgae, Nutrient Cycles, and Pollutants in the Lagoon of Venice". Estuaries. 15 (4): 517–528. doi:10.2307/1352394. JSTOR 1352394.
  9. ^ Pranovi, Fabio; Da Ponte, Filippo & Torricelli, Patrizia (2007). "Application of Biotic Indices and Relationship with Structural and Functional Features of Macrobenthic Community in the Lagoon of Venice: An Example over a Long Time Series of Data" (PDF). Marine Pollution Bulletin. 54 (10): 1607–1618. doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2007.06.010. PMID 17698152. Archived (PDF) from the original on 25 December 2015.
  10. ^ Occhipinti-Ambrogi, Anna & Savini, Dario (2003). "Biological Invasions as a Component of Global Change in Stressed Marine Ecosystems". Marine Pollution Bulletin. 46 (5): 542–551. doi:10.1016/S0025-326X(02)00363-6. PMID 12735951.
  11. ^ Marchini, Agnese; Ferrario, Jasmine; Sfriso, Adriano & Occhipinti-Ambrogi, Anna (2015). "Current Status and Trends of Biological Invasions in the Lagoon of Venice, a Hotspot of Marine NIS Introductions in the Mediterranean Sea" (PDF). Biological Invasions. 17 (10): 2943–2962. doi:10.1007/s10530-015-0922-3. hdl:10278/3661477.

Further reading

External links

1903 European Rowing Championships

The 1903 European Rowing Championships were rowing championships held in Giudecca, an island in the Venetian Lagoon, on the Giudecca Canal on a day in the middle of August. The competition was for men only and they competed in five boat classes (M1x, M2x, M2+, M4+, M8+).


Burano is an island in the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy, near Torcello at the northern end of the Lagoon, known for its lace work and brightly coloured homes. The primary economy is tourism.


Giudecca (Italian: [dʒuˈdɛkka]; Venetian: Zueca) is an island in the Venetian Lagoon, in northern Italy. It is part of the sestiere of Dorsoduro and is a locality of the comune of Venice.

Isola di San Michele

San Michele is an island in the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy. It is associated with the sestiere of Cannaregio, from which it lies a short distance northeast.

Isola di San Secondo

San Secondo is a small deserted island located in the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy.

La Certosa

La Certosa (Italian: Isola della Certosa) is an island in the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy. It is located north-east of Venice, less than 250 metres (820 feet) from San Pietro di Castello and little more than 500 metres (1,640 feet) from the Venice Lido. A 20-metre-wide (66 ft) channel separates it from the Vignole island. La Certosa has a surface of some 22 hectares (54 acres).

Lazzaretto Vecchio

The Lazzaretto Vecchio is an island of the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy, located near the Lido of Venice. Between 1403 and 1630 it housed a hospital which cared for people during the plague epidemics and as a leprosarium. It was later used, as were other islands, as a military post. It covers an area 2.53 hectares (6.3 acres) large.

Since 2004 archaeologists have unearthed more than 1500 skeletons of plague victims buried here between the 15th and 17th centuries. These have been found in individual as well as in mass graves. The remains of thousands more are expected still to be found on the small island as the death-toll reportedly reached 500 per day in the 16th century.

Lido di Venezia

The Lido, or Venice Lido (Italian: Lido di Venezia), is an 11-kilometre-long (7-mile) sandbar in Venice, northern Italy; it is home to about 20,000 residents. The Venice Film Festival takes place at the Lido every September.


Mazzorbo is an island in the northern Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy with a population of 256 (2019). It is linked to Burano by a bridge. It was once an important trading centre but is now known for its vineyards and orchards. Its main attraction is the fourteenth century Church of Santa Caterina, and there is also a brightly painted housing development, designed in 1979 by Giancarlo De Carlo.


Murano is a series of islands linked by bridges in the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy. It lies about 1.5 kilometres (0.9 miles) north of Venice and measures about 1.5 km (0.9 mi) across with a population of just over 5,000 (2004 figures). It is famous for its glass making. It was once an independent comune, but is now a frazione of the comune of Venice.


Pellestrina is an island in northern Italy, forming a barrier between the southern Venetian Lagoon and the Adriatic Sea, lying south west of the Lido.

The island is 11 kilometres (7 miles) long and has since the eighteenth century been bounded to its seaward side by large embankments. There are four main villages: San Pietro in Volta, Porto Secco, Sant' Antonio di Pellestrina and Pellestrina, known for their colourfully-painted houses.

The main industries of the island are market gardening, fishing, tourism and lace making. Like that in Chioggia but unlike that in Torcello, the local lace is made with a needle. Attractions on the island included the Lido of Ca' Roman, known for its pine trees and birdlife.

San Giorgio Maggiore

San Giorgio Maggiore (Venetian: San Zorzi Mazor) is one of the islands of Venice, northern Italy, lying east of the Giudecca and south of the main island group. The island, or more specifically its Palladian church, is an important landmark. It has been much painted, featuring for example in a series by Monet.

San Giorgio in Alga

San Giorgio in Alga (English: "St. George in the seaweed") is an island of the Venetian lagoon, northern Italy, lying between the Giudecca and Fusina (a frazione of Venice on the coast, near Marghera).

San Pietro di Castello (island)

San Pietro di Castello (Venetian: San Piero de Casteło), formerly Olivolo (Italian: Olivòlo; Venetian: Ołivoło), is an island in the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy, forming part of the Castello sestiere. It is linked to the main islands of Venice by two bridges.

Sant'Andrea (Venetian Lagoon)

Sant'Andrea is a small island in the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy.

It houses the Forte di Sant'Andrea, a large fortress built in the 16th century to defend Venice. Sant'Andrea constitutes a prolongation of the island of Vignole, from which it is separated by a narrow channel, towards the Porto di San Nicolò on the Lido, between Venice's Island and the island of Sant'Erasmo.


Sant'Elena is an island of Venice. It lies at the eastern tip of the main island group and forms part of sestiere of Castello. The original island was separated by an arm of the Venetian Lagoon from Venice itself, and was centred on the Church of Sant'Elena and its monastery, originally built in the twelfth century and rebuilt in the 15th.

In the 1920s, the island was expanded to fill in the gap; it is linked to the rest of the city by three bridges. It includes the Rimembranze Park, a naval college and a football stadium, Stadio Pierluigi Penzo, in addition to residential areas and Venice Bienniale buildings.

The belltower has a ring of 6 bells in B rung with the Veronese bellringing art.


Sant'Erasmo is an island in the Venetian Lagoon lying north-east of the Lido island and east of Venice, Italy.


Tronchetto (also known as Isola nuova, meaning "New island") is an artificial island in the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy, located at the westernmost tip of the main Venice island.

The island was created in the 1960s, and now is used as a car park for tourists who cannot bring their vehicles into the city. The Venice People Mover connects Tronchetto with Piazzale Roma, the main Venice bus station, which lies at the edge of the city center.


Vignole (also Le Vignole) is an island in the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy, with a surface of some 69.20 ha. It is located north-east of Venice, between the islands of Sant'Erasmo and La Certosa.

Islands of the Venetian Lagoon
Northern lagoon
Central group
Southern lagoon


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