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The New Cathedral

Adria is a town and comune in the province of Rovigo in the Veneto region of Northern Italymarker, situated between the mouths of the rivers Adigemarker and Pomarker. It is the seat of a diocese together with Rovigo.

The Etruscan city of Adria ("Hatria") underlies the modern city, three to four meters below the current level. Adria ("Hatria") gave its name at an early period to the Adriatic Seamarker, to which it was connected through channels. Adria and Spinamarker were the Etruscan ports and depots for Felsina (now Bologna).


The first settlements on the area are of Venetic origin, on the 12-9th century BC; at that time the mainstream of the Po, the Adria channel, flowed into the sea by this area.The Villanovan culture, named for an archaeological site at the village of Villanova, near Bologna (Etruscan Felsina), flourished in this area from the 10th until as late as the 6th century BC.The foundations of classic Atria are dated from 530 to 520 BC.

The Etruscans built the port and settlement of Adria after the channel was not the mainstream anymore; the Etruscan port and town of Adria flourished on the late 6th century BC.The Etruscan-controlled area of the Po Valley was generally known as Padan Etruria (Padan refers to the Po Rivermarker), as opposed to their main concentration along the Tyrrhenianmarker coast south of the Arnomarker.

Greeks from Aeginamarker and later from Syracuse by Dionysius I colonised the city making it into an emporion.Greeks had been trading with the Eneti from the sixth century BC.

Mass Celtic incursions into the Po valley resulted in friction between the Gauls and Etruscans, and also intermarriage, attested by epigraphic inscriptions where Etruscan and Celtic names appear together.The city was populated by Etruscans,Eneti,Greeks and Celts.

Pliny the Elder, a Roman author and fleet commander, wrote about a system of channels in Atria that was, "first made by the Tuscans [Etruscans], thus discharging the flow of the river across the marshes of the Atriani called the Seven Seas, with the famous harbor of the Tuscan town of Atria which formerly gave the name of Atriatic to the sea now called the Adriatic." Pliny's "Seven Seas" were interlinked coastal lagoons, separated from the open sea by sandspits and barrier islands. The Etruscans extended this natural inland waterway with new canals to extend the navigation possibilities of the tidal reaches of the Po all the way north to Atria. As late as the time of the emperor Vespasian, shallow draft galleys could still be rowed from Ravennamarker into the heart of Etruria.

Under Roman occupation the town lost importance to the former Greek colony Ravennamarker as the continued siltation of the Po delta carried the seafront farther to the east. The sea is now about 22 km from Adria.

The first exploration of ancient Atria was carried out by Carlo Bocchi and published as Importanza di Adria la Veneta. The collections of the Bocchi family were given to the public at the beginning of the twentieth century and comprise a major part of the city museum collection of antiquities.

There are several ideas concerning the etymology of the ancient toponym Adria/Atria. One theory is that it derives from an "Illyrian" (Venetic language intended? ) word adur, 'water', 'sea'.

Main sights

  • Church of Santa Maria Assunta della Tomba (formerly the cathedral), of medieval origin but rebuilt in 1718. It houses an octagonal baptismal font from the 7th or 8th century, with the carved name of the 3rd bishop of Adria, Bono. Other artworks include several 15th and 16th centuries paintings, and, in the chapel, a terracotta relief depicting a Dormitio Virginis, attributed to Michele da Firenze.
  • Adria Cathedral, the New Cathedral (Cattedrale Nuova dei Santi Petro i Paulo), dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul
  • Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Adria

Twin towns

See also


  1. The Archaeology of Etruscan Society by Vedia Izzet,2008,page 13: "... 161), the Latin atrium is derived from the Etruscan town of Atria (modern Adria), ascribing the form to the houses of the town), and ..."
  2. The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites quoting Strabo (5.1.8)), consider that Adria derived its name from the Adriatic Sea; Hecataeus asserts that both Adria and the Adriatic sea derived their names from the Adria river.
  3. The Oxford Illustrated History of Prehistoric Europe by Barry Cunliffe,2001,table 4
  4. An Inventory of Archaic and Classical Poleis: An Investigation Conducted by The Copenhagen Polis Centre for the Danish National Research Foundation by Mogens Herman Hansen,2005,Index
  5. In An Inventory of Archaic and Classical Poleis by Mogens Herman,ISBN 0198140991,2004,,"As a long-distance trading community, Aigina was not an active coloniser, but colonised Kydonia (no. 968) in 519, Adria (no. 75) c.C61, and Damastion in Illyria after 431 (Strabo 8.6.16)."
  6. The Ancient Mediterranean by Michael Grant,1988,page 171,"On the north side of the Delta,sixth century objects have been found at Adria where Greeks traded with the Eneti who inhabited the present Venezia"
  7. A Companion to the Classical Greek World by Konrad H. Kinzl, 2007,page 178: "... Adria appears to have been a Greek (possibly Aiginetan) emporion, but it also had a substantial Etruscan population, and possibly also Venetic and Celtic elements (Fogolari and Scarfi 1970).
  8. Two bands of sand dunes east of the city mark the former sea front in Etruscan-Greek times, and in Roman times.(Princeton Encyclopedia)
  9. Adrian Room, "Brewer's Dictionary of Names", p.7. (ISBN 1-85986-323-x)

Sources and external links

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