Livenza River: A Slow Food Journey in Discovering the Venetian Territory of Waterways and Land

A river that flows generously through the plains of Veneto and Friuli - Venezia Giulia creating passages that mark picturesque natural landscapes at its path touching banks sprinkled with a collection of lush hydric green vegetation, villages and fields, Livenza River is one of Veneto's hidden gems. The length of the river is lined with various kinds of willows, alders, birches, acacia, hawthorn and poplars with the cold running water home to a richness of aquatic life. Here you can find trout, tench, carp, bream, pike, grayling and eel, which is now a critically endangered species. Located in the northeastern part of Italy, Livenza River runs its course of 112 kilometers long marking the border between the regions of Veneto and Friuli - Venezia Giulia as it ends in the Adriatic Sea at Caorle.

In ancient history, the river's navigation of large boats from Venice carrying all kinds of merchandise has assumed a very important trade route by the Venetian Republic with the hinterland destined for northern Europe. Today, its magnificent water continues to charm with its silent beauty wealthy in precious environmental and ecological heritage. With the initiative of Slow Food Veneto Orientale, Livenza River is completely navigable with the cycle routes mapped out by GiraLivenza and river routes by Veneto Rivers Holiday passing through historic villages, plains and woods, giving an opportunity to discover the food and wine products of the territory linked to the history of Venice through its waterways.

Slow Food Veneto Orientale

Slow Food is a global movement founded by Carlo Petrini in Rome, Italy in 1986 when the opening of a fast food restaurant near the Spanish Steps in Rome sparked a widespread national protest in the country. It aimed to counter the negative impacts of fast food which are the industrialization of food production, standardization and the loss of traditional culinary traditions. Therefore, it advocates the preservation of the local gastronomic traditions, support small-scale farmers, and promote sustainable and high quality food ensuring good, clean and fair food for everyone.

Stemmed from Slow Food, the Slow Food Veneto Orientale operates in the territory of Eastern Veneto, from Cavallino to Bibione, passing through San Donà di Piave, San Stino di Livenza and Portogruaro. It is a large and varied territory, crossed by three waterways of considerable importance: Piave, Livenza and Tagliamento. With a territory filled with waterways and land, there is a richness in the variety of plants, animals and microorganisms involved in food and agriculture. This rich agri-food biodiversity is made up of small characteristic productions, ancient grains and numerous landscapes of ecological importance. In this regard, the movement is committed to the promotion and safeguarding of the territory's wealth by increasing our food awareness, thanks to education activities, workshops and tastings, but also 360 degree information.

Slow Food Veneto Orientale Products: Biancoperla Corn and Bisat

Biancoperla Corn
Commonly prepared with Marano corn, yellow polenta is one of Veneto region's historical gastronomic tradition. Yet, until after the Second World War, in the Polesine, Treviso and Venetian areas, white polenta from Biancoperla corn was mainly cooked. Geographically, it divides the plain and the hills from the mountainous parts of the region where the yellow corn is more prevalent and Biancoperla is considered of great value. The cobs are tapered, elongated, with large pearly white and shiny, glassy grains, resulting in white polenta also known as "di Treviso", giving a fine and delicate taste. White polenta is accompanied by various dishes and in the countryside, it was consumed with cold milk, obtaining a sort of semolina. Ideally, it is combined with river and lagoon fish dishes.

Bisàt della Livenza
Along the waters of Livenza River, a particular kind of eel finds its natural habitat. The river is characterized by significant water flows, deriving both from the streams of Cellina and Meduna. The sedimentary composition and the hydrodynamic characteristics of the water make it an ideal environment for the eel. Locally, the eel is called bisàt and it is characterized by brilliant and light skin with lean meat but not dry. For years, bisat has represented one of the first forms of livelihood for local river fishermen but in the recent years, this tradition has met a great decline in demand in favor of marine fish. The huge maintenance costs of fishing structures have further discouraged professional fishermen to continue their activities and as a result, they have gradually abandoned bisàt fishing altogether. Today only one remains and thanks to the interest of a network of local restaurateurs and chefs called Confraternitá del Bisàt, they were able to carry forward both the traditional recipes and new ideas. This community was born in collaboration with Slow Food Veneto Orientale for the valorization of the bisàt of Livenza. Gastronomically, the bisàt of Livenza has a more delicate meat than farmed eel, it is less fatty and is therefore suitable for a wider variety of preparations and recipes, including the traditional recipe of "Bisàt coi amoi" which is an exquisite dish stewed with tomatoes.wider variety of preparations and recipes, including the traditional recipe of "Bisàt coi amoi"which is an exquisite dish stewed with tomatoes.


GiraLivenza is an easy and leisurely nature - historical cycle route along the Livenza river that starts in Pramaggiore and runs all the way to Caorle with a distance of 46 kilometers which can be accomplished in one day. The route crosses the DOC Lison - Pramaggiore wine production areas, natural areas and agricultural landscapes where cereal is grown. This bike tour can also commence from Ca Corniani where e-bikes are available for renting, towards the town of Caorle for a distance of about 4 kilometers of flat cycling route.


Along the cycling route from Pramaggiore to Caorle, there are a lot outstanding natural backdrop to admire but there are around seven points of interest that are worth stopping for. The first is the Villa dalla Pasqua Complex, Mulino and Museo Etnografico di Belfiore, an architectural complex consisting of three 15th-century structures: the villa, the mill and the castellina in the ancient village of Belfiore, along the course of the Loncon River. The second is the town of Annone Veneto, the origin of which is thought to be contemporary with the construction of the first two Roman roads in the region, the Via Postumia and the Via Annia from the 2nd century B.C. At the center of the town is the Church of San Vitale with its 15th-century bell tower. It is also interesting to know that it is called the City of Wine of the denomination DOC Lison - Pramaggiore.

The third point along the route is the Forests of Bandiziol and Prassacon which is located in the municipality of San Stino di Livenza, which, between 1994 to 1997, has been reconstructed by planting young trees on an area of almost 120 hectares and creating a wetland area of 10,000 square meters. Several species of trees coexist in the woods of Bandiziol and Pressacon, offering in all seasons the opportunity to admire a lush and varied flora, a characteristic example of a lowland forest. The fourth point of interest is San Stino di Livenza, a town where the rivers of Livenza and Malgher run through. The 16th-century church of San Marco in Corbolone and the castle are of artistic and historical interest. Along the ancient Riviera of the Livenza, of no less importance are the Sunday villas of the Venetian era. The town of Ceggia follows wherein the archeological remains of a Roman bridge can be seen, as well as the 18th-century Oratorio Bragadin and the Church of San Vitale, buildings in Neoclassical style.

Located in Boccafossa, the Museo del Paessaggio di Torre di Mosto, inaugurated in 2007, hosts a collection of artworks of Venetian artists of the 20th-century whose main theme is the reinterpretation and artistic representation of the landscape. Being a land of earth and water, here, their vibrant color contrasts are amplified by the creativity of the artists. Lastly, the town of Caorle, a small touristic seaside town referred to as the "Little Venice" because its historic town center recalls the narrow streets and small squares of Venice.

Veneto Rivers Holiday

Veneto Rivers Holiday offers an unforgettable experience of journeying the 124-kilometer middle land nestled between the rivers of Piave, Meschio and of course, Livenza. The length of time doesn't matter because there is always the right kind of experience that amplifies the splendid territory of land, water, bell towers and forests. Their aim is to narrate the territory between Venice and the Dolomites through experiences in nature, sports and culture with a number of proposals that tailor-fit everyone's expectations. The river, with its smooth flow of clear water, is the core of their journeys which ties together a diversity of experiences. You can choose from a lot of proposals like canoeing, kayaking, renting electric boats of Eboats & Go or even photographic workshops.

Ca' Corniani

Ca' Corniani is a big estate that embraces a total land area of 1,770 hectares that is currently focused on the development of agriculture, art and culture. Although its history of rebirth starts when Assicurazioni Generali purchased it in 1851, it is also interesting to know how it had been prior to the reclamation of the area starting from 1400 when it was an area overrun by water, formerly the Caorle Lagoon which is now known as Livenza Morta. The lagoon, which belonged to the Serenissima Republic of Venice, was leased to the local population that used it for hunting and fishing but over the years, the lagoon turned into a marshy site with islands of dry soil. Seeing the chance of bringing money to the till, Venice divided the ancient lagoon into lots called “prese” to be sold to its nobility. The third and fourth lots, corresponding to the Ca’ Corniani area, were purchased first by the Cottoni family and then by the Corniani family.

With the reclamation project conducted by Assicurazioni Generali upon at the end of the 19th-century, the marshy area was turned into arable land dedicated to agriculture which, thanks to the construction of natural drainage canals and pumping stations to drain the excessive water. In the 1930s, Ca’ Corniani became a veritable community with a population of up to 3,000 living in the main farm center and in the 80 tenant farms scattered throughout the area. It became one of the first successful examples of an avant-garde farming activity wherein the farmers and their families received jobs, health service, training, schools for the children and even a recreation center where it could gather. However, in the 1960s, the new farming technology caused a decrease in the workforce and in a drop in Ca’ Corniani’s farming population and activity. Today, Ca’ Corniani is a flourishing agricultural estate belonging to Gruppo Genagricola, mainly dedicated to the cultivation of crops and herbaceous pastures, with a small portion of land dedicated to vine growing. 


As a final destination to a cycling tour of Livenza, Caorle is the perfect stop to relax and enjoy a bubbly seaside town. As a coastal town facing the Adriatic Sea with 18 kilometers of golden sandy beaches and pristine waters with an abundance of seafood, there's no other place as perfect as Caorle. The symbols of the town are the 11th-century cathedral and the majestic cylindrical bell tower of Romanesque style. The old town center, referred to as the "Little Venice", is characterized by alleys, narrow streets and small squares lined with vibrantly-colored houses, and has managed to keep the atmosphere linked to the sea, lagoons and ancient fishing traditions. Historically, the center of the town was made of three small islands that were linked by four bridges. Just like Venice, there were no roads, just navigable canals but as the 18th-century arrived, the canals started to get filled with land ridding them of the water that once flowed through the waterways.

As you arrive at the shoreline of the town, the cycling route takes you to the magnificent scenery of the 18th-century Church of the Madonna dell'Angelo built on the 6th or 7th century remains of probably the oldest religious structure in Caorle positioned on a promontory wedged into the Adriatic Sea where the cliff ends and the Levante Beach begins

Where to Eat

Slow Food Osteria La Gassa
Trattoria La Gassa of Umberto and Antonia, derived from a term that refers to a kind of maritime noose, is located along the Livenza River. While Antonia makes sure that the guests at the dining area is well attended to, Umberto prepares the dishes in the kitchen. The cuisine is traditional and gives importance to the territory and seasonality of the products. It is also one of the restaurants that is a part of the "Ristoratori del Bisat della Livenza", a gastronomic itinerary by Slow Food. Here, you can try the Bisát della Livenza, a typical dish prepared with the eel fished from the Livenza River. Across the restaurant, there is a small dock for Eboats&Go, a project born from the idea of making the territory usable with ecological means like the Livenza River. With their e-boats, it is possible to move along the length of Livenza without disturbing the elements of the waterways to respect the environment.

Trattoria da Isetta
Located at Piazza Independenza of the town of Torre di Mosto, Trattoria Isetta preserves the gastronomic tradition of the territory. Marco Frare, who took over in 2015, keeps everything homemade, from bread to pasta and desserts, a place that locals firmly recommend. The trattoria's proposals are fish and meat based dishes with a focus on Venetian cuisine. To accompany the food, a small cellar with a carefully-selected range of wines is available.

Where to Get Your Wine

Borgo Stajnbech
At Borgo Stajnbech, three generations of the Valent family have dedicated themselves to the winemaking tradition of the territory. Founded in 1991 by Giuliano Valent and his wife Adriana Marinatto, the wine estate is located at Belfiore di Pramaggiore in the DOC Lison - Pramaggiore denomination area has 17 hectares of vineyards utilizing agronomic techniques that protect environmental sustainability and biodiversity. Giuliano started with his father's viticulture activities when he was young and when he came of age, he and his wife realized their dream of producing their own wines. Now, together with their daughters, Medea and Rebecca who functions as the oenologist, the family business has grown into a thriving activity that proudly represents their territory backed with the responsible use of resources which involve practices that minimize environmental impact and support long-term ecological balance. 

Their annual production is around 130,000 bottles with grape varieties namely Tocai Friulano, Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Verduzzo, Pinot Grigio, Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso and Pinot Nero. Their strongest label is the multi-awarded 150 Lison Classico DOCG which was obtained from 100% Tocai Friulano which went through soft pressing with cryomaceration for 8 hours in the press, vinification in white at controlled temperatures and 8 months on the lees with frequent stirring giving an elegant result in the glass with intense floral and fruity aromas. The L'Enologa, a special numbered wine created by Rebecca which underlines her role as a female oenologist (the English of oenologa) is a blend of 60% Tocai Friulano and 40% Chardonnay, the latter was refined in oak barrique of second passage for 9 months. It is another very interesting wine which evokes elegance with a complexity in the nose of yellow fruit pulp and flowers and smoky notes.

Where to Sleep

Borgo Rurale San Salvador
Along Livenza River in Torre di Mosto, Borgo Rurale San Salvador is a newly-refurbished b&b with 5 spotless and spacious apartments housed in one of the structures of the small hamlet. A morning walk just across the place is the Livenza River which displays a beautiful misty scenery. The daily breakfasts are served at the homey dining room of Borgo Rurale San Salvador where owner Stefano Orlandi and his wife cook and prepare everything, from butter to jams, bread and everything else that captures their imagination. All the raw materials they use are from their own production or from small local producers in the area. Just their breakfasts alone make you look forward to waking up early and see what they have prepared on the table.