The "Casoni" in Comacchio's Valleys

Written by  Aniello Zamboni

The importance of ancient dwellings in the history of our region.

Today the surviving casoni are only a few; we see them solitary on the banks of the few marshes saved from the reclamations; however, they remain an important character of the fascinating landscape of the valleys. They were watch-towers for the guards assigned to the surveillance against the poachers, or dwelling for the vallanti, those cultivating the marshes, part of a complex of buildings and devices for fishing that took the name of stazione di valle. The casoni, either surveillances or dwellings, were many. Those who are accustomed to the navication in the ocean of ancient documents can their number and ascertain the modifications in their structure and construction in the centuries' old vicissitudes of Comacchio valleys. Seventy six of them were accunted for in the census of 1815. However, this survey took into consideration only those which were property of the municipality of Comacchio, thus omitting those belonging to other municipalities. The building of the casoni began under

pope Urbano VIII (1623 - 1644), as part of the setting of a new urban plan which gave Comacchio its modern form. The merit goes to Francisco Cennini, cardinal of S. Marcello, legacy of Ferrara from 1624 to 1628, who, in 1626, started to acquire the small shelters on the shoreline, in order to pull them down and use the recovered building materials for the construction of new dwellings in masonry. His enterprise, celebrated by local historians, is confirmed by the exceptional finding of a marble plaque recovered last year in Valle Campo, during the execution of maintenence works of the Zanzulla bank, not far from a demolished casone, celebrating the cardinal whom, "to benefit of the fishermen ordered several cane houses to be rebuilt in masonry, a channel for the flow of waters to be dug, thus making Comacchio healtier.



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