Hemingway’s lagoon, just a short hop from Bibione.
The American writer Ernest Hemingway, in his novel Across the River and Into the Trees, sets some of his loveliest pages right at the Bibione lagoon and the Brussa beach. This one-of-a-kind place, since renamed ValleVecchia, was recognized by the European Union as a Special Protection Area and Site of Community Importance because of its incredible natural features.
The area, still a significant example of the coastal area of the Upper Adriatic, is an island (linked to the mainland by a bridge over the Canadare Canal) located between Bibione and Caorle, whose sandy banks still retain most of their natural integrity due to a major coastal dune system. The importance of ValleVecchia’s natural history lies in the fact that it contains one of Italy’s largest undeveloped Upper Adriatic beaches. It is thus one of the few places where it is still possible to observe the fauna typical of sandy riverbanks, in addition to many unique local features due to its special geographic position, which makes it a kind of ‘middle earth’ between East and West.
Ornithologists have counted more than 150 bird species there: it is a kind of open-air bird and animal sanctuary where you can easily identify swans, herons, falcons, hawks, stilts and ducks. The area extends over more than 900 hectares, more than half of which are used by the Veneto Agricoltura farm for experimental and low-environmental-impact crops; the rest of it is occupied by about 150 hectares of sandy coastline, then an equal area of littoral pines and scrub, and the rest is newly formed wetlands. A Nature Education Centre has been established that is especially geared to students, and an Environmental Museum that contains a reconstruction of a casone, the traditional dwelling of those who fished in the lagoon.
You can visit the ValleVecchia by bicycle, using the bike trail, or on horseback along the steep roads that run for more than 10 km, in a kayak along the navigable canals or by taking a pleasant walk that permits observation of the altana (a ten-metre-plus observation platform), the lake areas, the farms and its interesting flora and rich fauna. Day-trippers are guided by a special sign system that allows them to explore this extraordinary natural kaleidoscope.
ValleVecchia is now one of the points of reference for enthusiasts of lagoon environments and for everyone eager to spend a day in direct contact with nature. It is, however, an area containing delicate natural balances that must be approached respectfully, with the attitude of a guest who feels privileged to visit a unique place. It provides a substantial opportunity for sustainable tourism and should be protected in order to allow future generations to enjoy it.
If you are a bike lover, see the bike tour Brussa and Vallevecchia.