History

Lido di Venezia dal satelliteVenice’s Lido is skinny strip of land, 12 kms long that stretches from the port of San Nicolò to the port of Malamocco.  The island separates the lagoon from the Adriatic Sea.  It is connected to Venice and the mainland only by vaporettos (waterbuses) or a car ferry.  It is the only island in Venice on which cars are allowed.

The island was formed a long time ago by sands brought down by rivers. It was defended over the centuries from erosion by the sea and also the lagoon.  It was protected from the sea by embankments of at least 4 metres high and  protective barriers up until the construction in the 1700s of dykes and causeways in Istrian stone such as those of the Murazzi.  On the lagoon side, the rivers were deviated:  The Brenta and Bacchiglione Rivers were made to out flow after Chioggia.

Because of its position it was a strategic point of defence for Venice from enemies approaching from the sea.  The two entries into Venice from sea in fact come from the two ends of the island. The first is at the north east point of the island and is protected by two forts, San Nicolo and the Sant’Andrea Fort which can be found on the island (opposite Lido) after which it is named. These two forts, one opposite the other with the sea-lagoon entrance between them, barred entry to any enemy ships.
The second entrance is in the south of the island at the Malamocco-Alberoni port and was defended by two forts of that name. Other forts were built to defend the Island – one at the Quattro Fontane where the Palazzo del Cinema and Casino now stand. 

Up until the middle of the 1800s, the island was mainly fields surrounds by desolate dunes.  A few of the fields were cultivated with vegetables or vineyards and there were few inhabitants. This attracted wrters and poets who used the island as a holiday spot or residence (George Gordon Byron, Thomas Mann). In the last twenty years of the 19th century, after the Austrians left in 1866, the island began a transformation into an urban reality with architectural projects which led it to become during the years 1910 -20 (the golden era), the most elegant and sought after seaside resort in Europe.

Apart form its perfect position,  between the sea and the city, Lido has become an important tourist and cultural centre because of its International film festival, the Festival Internazionale d’Arte Cinematografica.

The areas of major historical interest are at St Nicolo and Malamocco.  At St Nicolo is the church that goes by the same name. It was founded in 1044 to preserve the remains of St Nicholas.  It was later a Benedictine monastery. Close by is the Jewish cemetery, built in 1389 and surrounded by Cypresses.
A few kilometres away is the picturesque area of Malamocco. Its name derives from Medoaco (the old name of the Brenta), which then became Medamaucus or Methamauco. It was one of the main centres in the lagoon (it was an ancient seaport for the Padova Romana, seat of the bishopric and in the 7th century of the doges) until the terrible hurricane that destroyed the entire area. This area has canals and little streets called calle, with squares and low built houses. It is one of the most ancient sites in the whole of the lagoon - a perfect copy of Venice.

Not far from Malamocco is Alberoni whose name derives from a forest of poplars that once grew there to act as a navigational sign for sailors. It is today a natural reserve. The dunes are one of the few remaining on the Veneto coast and therefore is home to many species of plant and wildlife. It is a reserve protected by the WWF and the Venice City Council along with the Province. There is also a large pine forest run by the Forest Service of Treviso and Venice. Close by is a golf course on the site of the old Alberoni Fort. It is surrounded by pines, limes, ashes and poplars, some of the most beautiful of Europe.  

Lido is popular amongst Venetians for the sports facilities it offers (tennis, golf, swimming, horse riding, rowing, soccer and rugby) and its beaches in the summer.
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