by Manuel Pavanello
Once upon a time, there was a city that had been called Cavazuccherina for half a millennium and was situated in an unproductive and marshy area before it became an agricultural centre. This is not the beginning of a fairy tale, but it is exactly what happened to Jesolo before the so-called land reclamation.
Erroneously attributed to the fascist era, the reclamation project began in the first 15 years of the 20th century, i.e. during the Giolitti government. The marshy territory was not only an obstacle to the spread of the railway network, but was also the breeding ground for the Anopheles, the mosquito responsible for the spread of malaria. The establishment of “reclamation consortia” was essential to reclaim these areas, including the territories of San Donà di Piave and Jesolo, better known as “Basso Piave”. The reclamation along the upper Adriatic coast culminated with the birth of 6 consortia between 1901 and 1906 (“Ongaro Superiore”, “Cavazuccherina I bacino”, “Bella Madonna”, “Ongaro Inferiore”, “Brian” and “Cavazuccherina II bacino”) to which others were added during the first post-war period. Globally, a dozen consortia operated in about 62 thousand square hectares of which almost two thirds were marshy.
Then we might wonder what is left of all this in our city. In San Donà di Piave, a museum dedicated to reclamation was established in 1975, but in Jesolo?
Right near the Tosano roundabout, in a private property closed to the public, there is a little known evidence of this past: a small terracotta brick tower with a hexagonal shape dating back to 1901, evocatively surmounted by ivy. A white plaque immediately stands out against this background: it is a commemorative epigraph that was placed there on 3 September 1956, 50 years after the establishment of the above-mentioned Cavazuccherina consortium. This was a posthumous way of thanking those who gave us salubrious, arable, habitable, but above all liveable lands.
Today, we take for granted the fact that we live in a restored urban environment albeit with all the limitations deriving from overbuilding; but what we see today is the result of great efforts. Living in a healthy area is not a given, so it is our duty to respect it not to frustrate the efforts of those who lived before us.