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History Lignano

The text: written by Doriano Moro,(traslations of Paolo Alemanni)
it originates from the stories of the common people,
from the 30 year-old researches developed
in collaboration with the Town Library,
from the manuscript "PAOLINI".

An emotion that lasts one century

"Fragments of History" has been realized and entirely financed by the Foto Cine Club Lignano without any contribution of other organisations and it's now on downloable for free, with the prayer to respect the developed job, quoting the paternity of it. And it's also forbidden even a partial use in other web sites of this text. All the rights are reserved Foto Cine Club - Lignano.

This text is in PDF format, you will need Adobe Acorbat Reader 7.0 or higher to read it.


In Lignano, the notion of 'memory culture' (collecting cultural and social knowledge for the preservation and continuity of a society's identity) and its practice, started only in 1980. The Town Library and the local photography association, FotoCineClub, teamed up and, with great enthusiasm, begun collecting images, news and information about the events that characterised our city, including: the pioneers, the fishing culture, the agriculture, the economic boom, the notable growth of both tourism and the building trade, and much more.
Thanks to this research and to the incessant appreciation among the people of the Town Library and the FotoCineClub, the local community has, at their disposal, a wealth of information and photographs regarding Lignano's past 'memories'.
The credit for the meticulous research and collection of images must go to the people of the FotoCineClub, and the recognition for the organisation and publication of information regarding Lignano, goes to the Town Library. All the information obtained has been synthesised and is now available in this publication.
As in any historical research, the information available on Lignano is boundless. Often, new unpublished images emerge at times from the pocket of an old tourist taking the story back to the beginning, once again. This is the reason why, despite the 30 years of activity, the search for further documentation of the history of Lignano is still alive and is also the cause of many hours spent reworking exhibitions, shows and screenings in the pursuit of promoting its history.
It is important for the collaboration between the Town Library and the FotoCineClub to continue for many years: there are many more images that still need to be found so that the history of Lignano can be revived once again.
"Our children ought to know the history of the city in which they live or our precious history may go unnoticed!"
it is for words like these, that we will always keep on working to document the past as well as the present, which will be tomorrow's history.


A silence 'without history' seems to enshroud the peninsula of Lignano up until the turn of the 20th century, with the birth of tourism. The only indication of the existence of modern civilisation in Lignano before April 11, 1903 - the date of the official foundation of the first Bathing Establishment - is the recording of its presence in the ancient maps, which depict Lignano purely as a geographical presence or rather, an empty space between the political border of the Venetian Republic and the Marano Fortress - this being a strategic point in the hegemony of the -Serenissima -(The Republic of Venice) territory.


Early geographical drawings portrayed Lignano as a series of dune ridges (8 to 9), shaped by wind and carved by a messy tangle of channels; characterised by a thick bush made of black pines, oaks, butcher's brooms, etc. These maps would also show the long stretching beach, the result of thousands of years of tidal action carried out by the Adriatic sea and the river -Tagliamento -


Lignano featured a handful of houses built on a bank of the lagoon, Laguna di Marano, along with some traditional shelters called casone belonging to fishermen of the neighborung town of Marano. From the mid 1500s, a small church endowed Lignano. Nevertheless, this truly was a no man's land inhabited only by a few fishermen, rafters, swamp hunters, poor peasants with malaria 'written on their faces', and perhaps some horse breeders.


Interestingly, there is written proof of the existence of a small nucleus settled in Lignano during Roman times. A document dating back top the 6th century cites 'quintum litus quod appellatur Lugnanum propter hoc quod luporum multitudo' (a place called lignano...), presumably referring to the land, owned by a person named Lunius.


Lignano was a small port of call, linked to the adjacent lagoon and to the vast plains thanks to the many rivers and canals that guaranteed a good network. From its primordial form and appearance, Lignano has inherited the name Pineda - woodlands or pinewood. The river Tagliamento allowed the transportation of wood coming from the inland, guided by the zatars (rafters) until the river's mouth. The wood was then loaded onto large boats called trabaccolo and destined to the Venetian Arsenal which at the time was an eager consumer of wood necessary for its fleet and for strengthening the basement of the islands in the lagoon of Venice: The splendour of the Serenissima stands also on an invisible forest of woods eradicated from the land of Friuli.


During the Venetian dominion (since 1419), Lignano had been partitioned as feuds between noble families. One of these families was the Vendramin, who were descendants from the Dogi and already controlled the feud of Latisana. In the second half of the 16th century, the Vendramins commissioned the construction of the little church of San Zaccaria, which can be found still today in the little suburb of Pineda.


After numerous skirmishes for the possession of Marano between Venice and The Austrian Empire (at the beginning of 18th century a small fort was built at the tip of the Lignano peninsula to control the access to the Marano Lagoon), Lignano had been taken from the Vendramin family and became part of the Venetian military property, administrated directly by the Consiglio dei Dieci (formed of ten men, it was one of the major subdivisions of the government in the Republic of Venice). It was appointed to the Ospedale degli Incurabli - a historical Venetian charity foundation. During the Napoleonic Era and the Continental System, an extra fort had been built alongside the Guardia di Finanza Barracks.
Historical sources reveal the presence of approximately 70 people living in the Lignano peninsula in the year 1813; the number consists of military personnel and a sanitary inspector.



At the beginning of the 20th century, Lignano still featured woodlands of pine trees and sand dunes in the area bordering the sea; in the area bordering the lagoon, Lignano was characterised by swamps, marshes and bogs. The peninsula was mostly uninhabited. The only constructions were that of pheasants and fishermen; the former to be found near the river Tagliamento, the latter near the lagoon - the centre of fishing activities.


Tourism activity started in the spring of 1903. On April 11, a group of 6 boats with four journalists from Udine, politicians and other political figures with their respective wives, on board, left the port of Marano to reach the tip of the Lignano peninsula. They were going to honour the foundation and establishment of a bathing resort. The first construction was a modest wooden building; to be replaced by a more ambitious project designed by the Venetian engineer Vendrasco. The site of this construction was at the tip of the Lignano peninsula, which is the farthest from the mainland but the closest to port of Marano.


Three ladies from the party, with a propitiating rite, were placing small branches of Juniper on the beach, whilst the base for the first touristic construction was being traced on the sand. It was to be called "Bagni di Porto Lignano". The words of the official orator spoke of Venus who, born from the sea, embodied beauty and wellness. These pioneers may have been inspired by Grado and the Lido di Venezia, which were two well-established bathing resorts with a fashionable clientele.


The resort's only access was via the sea and this influenced future planning of the expansion of Lignano. The town started to grow around the tip of the peninsula and expanded westwards, in the course of the century, until the river Tagliamento. The first viable road connected the port (situated where the harbour, the Darsena, can now be found) to the sea. From this road another one started and ran parallel to the sea. On these two axes the first buildings and villas were constructed, between 1903 and 1910.



The summer season of 1914 was set to be a very flourishing one. It had been largely promoted by the Udinese press and various more improvements had been approved, such as the drainage of Biancure area and the refurbishment of the port of Marano - considered to be first class. However, with the beginning of the WWI conflict, the villas had been closed and the hotels depopulated. The only people left in Lignano where the hotels owners and their families. During the summers between 1915 and 1917, the number of tourists was meagre. Nevertheless, business continued thanks to the detachment of the Italian troops and the transit of supplies for the front. These supplies were transported via the Litoranea Veneta (a network of navigable canals). This network had been completed for military purposes and 'launched' on the December 4, 1915 at 8.30am in the town of Portogruaro with a boat trip to Marano. With the defeat of the Italian troops in the Battle of Caporetto in November 1917, the Austrians entered Italy. The bathing resort had been completely destroyed in order to use its wood; the wood was then shipped to Trieste.


The Great War determined the failure of the first and difficult attempt of tourism enterprise at the beginning of the 20th century, in Lignano. At the end of the conflict, the industry had to start anew. The protagonist of this second phase of Lignano was the architect Provino Valle, whom, at the end of the 1920s, completed a series of city-plans. One of these plans showed how part of Lignano was to be dedicated to more traditional industries like agriculture and fishing, therefore not entirely dedicated to tourism. Valle also designed the Terrazza a Mare, which was to become the icon of the town until the 1960s.



The fact that Lignano was primarily accessed via the lagoon, determined the sole settlement and expansion of the Western part of the peninsula. The significant distance between the town and the main land, for as unique as this may have been, it prevented the development of the town itself and the growth of tourism. It was only after the construction of the rotating bridge of Bevazzana in 1922 and after the layering of the road connecting Lignano and Latisana in 1926, that the correlation with the main land became more comfortable and presented significant competition to the connection via the lagoon.


Alongside the improvement of the road conditions, the drainage of canals and swamps have contributed, indirectly, to the improvement of tourism. Malaria and mosquitoes infested the swampy areas and presented health hazards to tourism. In the 1920s and 1930s all the canals that ran in the peninsula, from the Darsena to the river Tagliamento, had been opened to allow the flow of stagnant waters. Furthermore, large-scale drainage cleared and dried the land in the area of the Valli Pantani and Lovato, in the inner part of the peninsula.


The 1930s determined a more significant affirmation of the town as a vacation destination. The church and the Darsena had been built, but most important of all the Colonia Marina (summer camp for children) had been established and this became another indication of the thriving tourism industry. The drainages, the Darsena, the Colonia Marina and the layering of the promenade were completed with the aid of the Italian State. In 1935 Lignano became a "Stazione di Soggiorno", part of the public sector. The Azienda di Soggiorno is a body that took over the private enterprise in the promotion of tourism. In the same year Domenico Piegatolo drew up a new city plan, which supported the tendency of urban expansion, including a promenade of two kilometres.
The housing scheme followed modern tendencies. The 'city of vacation' presented for the architects of the time, the ideal conditions for the experimentation in new architecture. At the end of the 1930s, Lignano recorded the presence of 60,000 tourists of which 60% were Italian; this demonstrated an inversion of a market that saw foreigners dominating the charts of tourism until that date.



Lignano was only slightly affected by WWII, even though it was the backdrop of many air conflicts during this time. The German invasion began after the September 8, 1943, with many Austrian troops whom maintained a good relationship with the locals. These troops there stationed at the Colonia Marina and in the Guardia di Finanza barrack situated near the mouth of the river Tagliamento. The authorities based themselves in the Villa Moretti, near Piazza Fontana; the Villa also contained an infirmary ran by three health officers which spent the greater part of their time looking after not only their troops, but also the local population. Under the control of the "Organisation Todt" (a German paramilitary organisation), The local youth began the construction of bunkers in the winter of 1944, working mainly at night.

About four miles from the shores of Lignano, in the Adriatic sea, a string of mines barricaded the area from
Porto Buso all the way to the mouth of the river Tagliamento. In the autumn of 1944, about 100 retreating German troops landed on the peninsula: belonging to the 278^ division of the German Infantry headed by General Harry Hoppe, there were also some grenadier from the 993 Field Regiment. The first group where allocated in Bevazzana, near the drainage building Burgatto in the Pantanello area whereas the remaining troops where to guard the locks of the river Tagliamento. In January 1945 the area going from Via Lovato and Via Tarvisio and all the way to Riviera had been flooded with a metre of water to prevent the possibility of Allies landing.

April 1945; the escape: "We jumped on some trucks in the middle of the night and we drove for a long time without knowing where we were going; we fell prisoners to the English in Trento" recalled Heinz Hochschulz, an ex German soldier in an interview with the
FotoCineClub. The great landing occurred in the morning of May 4, 1945; some 14,000 soldiers (mainly Austrians) piled onto ships and boats with animals and goods of all kinds, hoping to travel up the river Tagliamento to reach Austria. They had sighted the Allies' naval fleet coming from the liberated Ancona along with a massive fleet of 50 warplanes, which obscured the sunny morning, but did not raid; theirs was a sabre-rattling demonstration. The intimidation sufficed and persuaded the Austrians to surrender to the Partisans and the Allied troops (New Zealanders) who had landed along the coast (The New Zealander Military Archive).

The most significant event in the history of Lignano's urban planning, taking place in the second part of the post-war period, was the city plan designed by the well-regarded architect from Udine, Marcello D'Olivo.


At the beginning of the 1950s, Lignano was an established holiday destination, where houses were not built as a necessity but as a luxurious symbol of wealth, often seen as a middle class status necessary to determine their place in society. Mr Avon was the architect who better understood and interpreted the taste of the new middle class. From this point onwards, Lignano witnessed an economic boom and the beginning of holidays for the masses. At the beginning of the 1960s, Lignano had a capacity of 25,000 beds available for a turnover of 1.8 million people. This capacity grew to 75,000 in 1973, peaking at a turnover of 6 million people, which has never been equalled in the future. The number of building permits grew from 1,700 in the decade 1951-1960 to nearly 2,500 in the subsequent decade.


The 1970s witnessed the competition for the construction of the new Terrazza a Mare (pier). The winning project was that of the architect Bernardis, whose work is identified by modernity.


Lignano has now become the centre of seaside tourism for the region Friuli Venezia Giulia attracting hundreds of thousands of tourists and therefore, at times, becoming the most populated city in the region and a vital element in the local economy. With this continuous exodus of people towards the shores of Lignano, the destination becomes like an escape from daily hardships.

The youthfulness of the city, just over 100 years old, and its vocation for tourism, situate Lignano in a peculiar position, making it a place where it is possible to experiment new trends in all fields. It is only down to us to grasp these opportunities and guide the city towards a future that has never before been so rich with uncertainties.

the FotoCineClub Lignano with all his members

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