Short history of Caorle

Once a mere fishing village, now a thriving seaside tourist destination

It was not until the early 20th century that Caorle found its way on the tourist map of Italy. Until then, while immersed in anonymity, it kept close to its ancient ways, living off fishery and preserving its traditions.

It still observes much of its practices – in fact, its boasts of the traditional accuracy of its cuisine, customs and architecture. Tourists come here mesmerized by its authenticity and by the balance it keeps between its past heritage and modern facilities and opportunities.


The area of nowadays Caorle seems to have been inhabited since 1500 BC, which is borne out by vestiges of settlements discovered in San Gaetano. Its origins are linked to the naval and military activity of the Roman Empire: plenty of findings prove it. The term "Caprulan", used to describe all things related to Caorle (from cuisine to inhabitants) is of Roman origin: a time immemorial denomination for a place populated by goats.

Middle Ages

However, a genuine community formed in Caorle after the fall of the Roman Empire: people fled from the barbarians who ravaged the eastern territories, and found shelter in the lagoon. The community naturally started to develop, and marked its progress by building places of worship, establishing institutions and customs: the setting of the Episcopal See (in 876), the building of the Cathedral (around the 11th century). Its relations with Venice favored Caorle’s growth, such that it became a most important fishery center and a powerful city (“ricca de zente e de possenza”), as sources corroborate.

The significance of fishery was so central to Caorle that it culminated in the so-called Doganale, a law issued by doge Francesco Foscari on December the 15th, 1439, that gave to Caorle the “privilege over the waters” (all waters between rivers Livenza and Tagliamento).

Modern era and contemporary age

After the decline of Venice itself, Caorle underwent a period of decay: unknown, a small Italian locality on the Adriatic coastline, living of fishery and some farming.

A new age started in the early 20th century, with the opening of the first hotel in Caorle: Petronia, in 1911. The two world wars slowed down the tourist development, but in the mid-20th century, things started to look up for Caorle. Its popularity skyrocketed and the tourist flow soon exceeded its population.

A history full of downturns and upturns that eventually brought Caorle on the tourist map of Italy. But a history throughout which the town managed to preserve its identity, despite the temptations of an overly assertive modernization.