In the city of Dolo the source of the Doges flowed Venice blue gold

18 January 2022

Dolo’s water, the so-called “blue gold”, was considered a real treasure for Venice and for this small village on the Riviera del Brenta. It was an essential good, a real lifeblood, which gave life not just to the people but to their economy as well, creating over time a unique and unbreakable bond, which still exists today. 

Venice means water, and exactly in the floating city that this year celebrates its 1600  anniversary, drinking water was nowhere to be found.

“Veniexia è in aqua et non ha aqua” (Venice find itself on water, and still doesn't have it), wrote once Marin Sanudo, and this is exactly the reason why the bond between Venice and Dolo was born. 

It was in 1600 that the Seriola, a 14km long and almost one meter wide canal, was designed and created. Long before the public aqueduct was built, in the second half of the 19th century, and much after since rainwater used to be collected, and water wells were invented. The canal let water flow from Dolo to Moranzani di Mira, where it was filtered and collected into barrels, ready to be carried elsewhere. 

“Hinc Potus Urbi”, which mean “from here the drinking water for the city”, is what was written on the marble inscription engraved where the Seriola canal took its way from the Brenta, and where the blue gold, the drinking water, get on boats (called burchi or burchielli) and reached Venice. 

“Once arrived in the city, drinking water was poured into the vere da pozzo (Venice typical water well) or directly delivered to the Doge, thus becoming an essential asset for Venice” - says Elisabetta Vulcano, founder of the Riviera del Brenta Study Center. 

Dolo’s water was not just a precious and essential asset for the life of Venetians, but it also guided the burchielli boats, it moved the floodgates of the locks, and let the well, of which was considered in 1500 as one of the biggest mills of Europe, move. Work and wealth was what guaranteed a mill in the village, which at the time was five times bigger than it is today. Here, the grain collected by peasants in the countryside was brought, and then ground, transformed into flour, packed, loaded into boats and carried to be sold in local markets. 

Building a mill in Dolo meant investing and redeveloping an area hitherto unknown, restoring the roads and canals once created by the Romans, and controlling the Brenta flow as the territory could be crossed in all weather conditions. The choice of the Serenissima, which has always been a pioneer,  eventually proved to be essential, considering that America was discovered and the development of trades overseas marked the losses of many flows in the Mediterranean. Thus, within a few decades, the small village of Dolo became for the Republic of Venice a social and economic reference point, even after its fall. 

The Serial thus continued to represent one of the main water sources from which the Venetian aqueduct drew, at least until the end of the 19th century. The mill, on the other side, as a key element for the economy of the lagoon city, and the village itself, remained active until 1989.