TOWN OF DOLO IN THE VENICE PROVINCE
Dolo is a town and comune in the province of Venice, in the Veneto Region, Italy. It is connected by the SP26 provincial road and is one of the towns of the Riviera del Brenta. The origin of the name of Dolo is quite uncertain and controverted. One hypothesis asserts the name comes from the contraction of "Dandolo", surname of a noble Venetian family who gave a doge to the city of Venice and had properties here. From old maps it appears that the town’s name was sometimes reported as “ Dollo “ which in archaic Italian language could also mean a tower which was probably demolished thereafter, unless it refers to church’s belfry which is the highest in the region of Veneto, just second to St. Mark’s belfry in Venice. A lovely picture of the ancient locks of Dolo of the Venetian painter Canaletto is visible in a museum in London.
The growth of the town of Dolo was due to the gradual downsizing of the maritime power of Venice, which had been historically oriented towards Dalmatia, the Aegean Sea and the Middle East, occurred concurrently with the fall of the Byzantine Empire, the Islamic expansion and the new opening of navigation routes to the Americas. The resulting was the need to address inland its new commercial interests.
At the beginning of the fifteenth century, documents testify to the existence of a village which, developing, gave rise to the economic importance of Dolo, always linked to the construction of its water mills collecting the wheat from the nearby agricultural lands and then grinding the flour and embarking same into cargo boats pulled by horses along the banks of the Brenta Canal to the lagoon, from where they continued directly up to the Venice island settlement. Drinking water, too, was carried from Dolo to the center of Venice by cargo boats with big barrels filled directly from springs of the little river Seriola.
The territory was affected by massive hydraulic works that led to the diversion of the main bed of the river Brenta through an artificial canal with new mouths along the southern sea approaches of the port of Chioggia, while just one part of the old Brenta still flows into the lagoon near the location of Fusina. The purpose of these megalithic hydraulic works was primarily to prevent the progressive flooding of the lagoon by the fresh water of the rivers and thus maintaining a high degree of salinity necessary to make viable the navigation and the same existence of Venice. Until 1405 the jurisdiction of Dolo was under Padua, and then passed definitely under the dominion of Venice. A boat called the Burchiello transported Venetians noblemen directly to the Riviera sailing along the river Brenta, which was considered as a natural extension of the Grand Canal, to spend summer in their sumptuous villas.
The water level of the navigable river ways were controlled by a system of locks which are nowadays still visible in the center of Dolo, even if the evolution basin is now ground filled. An old marble table is still shown nearby to show toll tariffs for the transit in the locks for each type of boats coming from or going to Padua. Close to basin, there is a small shipyard, now dismissed, which was anciently used to repair and shelter the boats prior or after transiting the locks, while laboratories of caulk were housed along the canal route.