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Roman Residents May Have Fled Before the Huns to Found Venice

Roman Amphitheatre, drawing by Philip Smith, 1875
ITALY - 11/08/2008 - University of Padua researcher Paolo Mozzi asserts that satellite imagery of the area around modern Altino may reveal an old settlement from which the ancestors of Venice may have fled. Almost three feet below the surface of the ground are visible the ruins of palaces, temples, streets, and theatres which show a once prosperous city including canals, streets, and an impressive amphitheatre.

A vital seafaring and trading city in the Adriatic in the mid-5th century, the residents of Roman Altinum may have deserted the city as Attila and his army advanced, leaving behind their homes and migrating south to the lagoons of Venice. Altino is about 7 miles from Venice today, and it appears that Venice may have attracted refugees from other Roman cities such as Aquileia, Padua and Ravena. Scientists believe that the migrating inhabitants may even have taken some of the stones of Altino to help build their new city of Venice. Further evidence of the migration is that some island names in Venice may be derived from Roman district names of Altinum like Torcello from the district Torricellum and others. By the time of the Venetian Renaissance, Venice was a well-established, international city of wealth, trade, and an important art center. Among famous Venetians in the Renaissance were men like Titian, Giorgione, Tintoretto, and the Bellini family.

Brenda Harness, Art Historian

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