The Venetian lagoon was formed in the 7th century B.C. from a previous river-palustrine environment and there have always been human settlements here due to the wealth of resources that favoured hunting and fishing. In the pre-Roman age the civilization was well rooted with areas with populations dedicated to fishing, salt production, maritime transport and commercial activities.
However, Venice was, at that time, a set of small settlements still very heterogeneous, while some neighbouring centres such as Torcello or Metamauco (the current island of Malamocco) were very important.
In 452 these small settlements already supported themselves with fishing and the exploitation of the salt pans.
Fishing Valleys were also created, an ancient practice that began in the lagoon around the XI century. Fishing Valleys are defined as areas of the Venice lagoon delimited by embankments and fences where “Vallicoltura”, a kind of extensive fish farming, is practised. The Valleys could ensure a certain self-sufficiency in case of crisis. Today it is still a technique handed down from generation to generation. A balance between the emerged land and the water between the seabed could and can be fished for sea bream, sea bass and mullet.
There are various types of fishing such as the Cuttlefish Fishing which takes place twice a year March-May and July-September, in this period they come from the Adriatic Sea to reproduce and lay their eggs, from the boat they fish the cuttlefish with a simple line and lead called “Togna” in dialect. Once fished, they are used for a typical Venetian dish called “Pasta al nero di Seppia” (cuttlefish ink pasta) with its characteristic black colour which is given by the internal “ink” bag of the cephalopod mollusk.
Another type of fishing is that of clams, in the past it was carried out using a boat called “Purasara” in dialect, the tool to extract them was called “Porazzara” this tool was used as a huge spoon to collect the arena of the seabed.
In the summer period it is still possible to see in the lagoon of Venice long shoals of marshland that appear only at low tide, the fishermen with their boats reach these islands and equipped with boots and gloves fish for clams searching and turning the bottom of the lagoon.
The seasonality of the fish derives mainly from the life cycles of each species and the desire not to market the fish before it has completed at least one reproductive cycle. The artisanal fishing in the sea and in the lagoon is still widely practised by the fishermen of Venice, who are true guardians of a millenary tradition, they are profound connoisseurs of the wetlands and in fact they have the delicate task of carrying out an authentic garrison of the fishing areas.