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Grado ( , , ) is a town and comune in the north-eastern Italianmarker region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, located on a peninsula of the Adriatic Seamarker between Venicemarker and Triestemarker. The comune (municipality) of Grado has an area of 114 km², and a population of 8,691.

Once mainly a fishing center, today it is a popular tourist destination, known commonly as L'Isola del Sole ("The Sunny Island"), also famous because it is also a spa town; together with Marano Lagunaremarker, it is the center of a lagoon, which is famous for its uncontaminated nature. Grado is the birthplace of Biagio Marin, a poet who sang about the island in the local Venetian dialect.


Interior of the Basilica of Sant'Eufemia.
In Roman times the city, known as ad Aquae Gradatae, was first port for ships entering the Natissa (Natisone), headed upstream to Aquileiamarker.

Quite close is the ancient Roman city of Aquileiamarker; during the late years of the Western Roman Empire many people fled from Aquileia to Grado in order to find a safer place, more protected from the invasions coming from the east. In 452, Nicetas, Bishop of Aquileia, took refuge briefly at Grado; of the same period is the earliest construction of Grado's first Cathedral, the first church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, and the Baptistery. Grado was the home base of the Patriarchate's fleet.

In 568, after the invasion of the Lombards, the seat of the Patriarchate of Aquileia was transferred here by the Patriarch Paulinus. After the "Schism of the Three Chapters", two different Patriarchs were elected: that of Grado exerted its jurisdiction over the Latin-origin people living in the coast and in the Venetian Lagoonmarker, while that Aquileia, later moved to Cividalemarker, had its jurisdiction on the mainland. A long lasting dispute over the authority of the two patriarchs ensued: in 993 the patriarch of Aquileia, Popo, conquered Grado, but was unable to maintain it. The matter was settled only in 1027 when the Pope declared the supremacy of the seat of Aquileia over Grado and the Venetian province.

The seat of the Patriarchate was transferred to Venicemarker in 1451 by Pope Nicholas V. Reduced to a minor hamlet, Grado was sacked by the English in 1810 and by the French in 1812. Grado was acquired by Austria in 1815, to which it remained until 1918, when it was returned to Italy after its victory in World War I.

Main sights

Today there are frequent finds of inscriptions, sarcophagi, marble sculpture and small bronzes that once furnished its villas. The remains of one of these villas has been excavated on the islet of Gorgo in the lagoon.

Modern landmarks include:
  • The Basilica of Sant'Eufemia (Cathedral), with the octagonal Baptistry (late 5th century). The church was once preceded by a quadri-portico, one of the columns of which is now in the centre of the Patriarch's Square. The current appearance of the church dates from the reconstruction by Fra Elia (579), with a simple hut façade and a bell tower (15th century) on the right side, which is surmounted by a statue portraying St. Michael and known as the Anzolo (1462). The interior has a nave and two aisles. The main point of interest is the mosaic pavement from the 6th century, restored in 1946-48.
  • The basilica of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Begun in the 4th-5th centuries, it was renovated in the 6th century and restored in Baroque in 1640.
  • The Barbana Sanctuarymarker. It is located in a small island in the Grado Lagoon. The original church was erected in 582 and was since rebuilt and enlarged.

Of the ancient fortress only a tower, turned into a private residence, and parts of the walls can still be seen. Under the Town Hall are remains of the Palaeo-Christian basilica of Piazza Vittoria.

Resort town

Today, Grado attracts scores of tourists each year to its hotels and campgrounds. A large water park run by a municipal corporation is the main attraction, complete with indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and a health center offering spa treatments.

The town also boasts a well-preserved pedestrian-only center, in which many shops, bars, and restaurants are located.

Grado also offers facilities for many sporting activities, including tennis, wind-surfing, and golf.


Bisconti F., Temi di iconografia paleocristiana, Città del Vaticano 2000.

Bovini G., Grado paleocristiana in "Archeologia Cristiana", Bologna 1973.

Farioli R., Mosaici pavimentali dell'alto Adriatico e dell'Africa settentrionale in età bizantina, in "Antichità Altoadriatiche", vo. V.paleocristiana, Ravenna 1975.

Farioli R., Pavimenti musivi di Ravenna, Ravenna 1975.

Efthalia Rentetzi, Un'inedita figura di pesce. Parentele stilistiche tra i mosaici pavimentali di s. Maria delle Grazie e s. Eufemia a Grado, in "Artonweb. Punti di visa sull'arte." [146836]

Efthalia Rentetzi, Un frammento inedito di S. Eufemia a Grado. Il pavimento musivo del Salutatorium, in Arte Cristiana, fasc.. 850 (Gennaio - Febbraio 2009), Volume XCVI, p. 51-52.

Twin towns

Image gallery

Image:July2006_Grado old town II.JPG|Many restaurants can be found in the oldest part of the town.Image:Cathedral_S_Eufemia,_Grado_IMG_0717_bordercropped.jpg|Basilica di Sant'Eufemia by nightImage:July2006_Grado old town III.JPG|The harbour

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