Caorle and the kidnapped maidens
Caorle, in the province of Venice, has a Romanesque, 11th-century Duomo with a magnificent cylindrical bell tower that for centuries offered sailors an ideal vantage point for reconnaissance, and today is still considered unique due to its shape and age.
The town is also home to “Porto delle Donzelle” (Maidens’ Harbor) – officially known as Porto Santa Margherita –, a stretch of beach nicknamed after a kidnapping that occurred in the distant past.
According to tradition, on 31 January 943, Dalmatian pirates kidnapped a few Venetian young ladies who were about to get married. They attacked so quickly that no one had time to react.
Once they fled, indignation grew in everyone in Venice, including the Doge – and they sought vengeance.
“The thieves were at the small, desert harbor of the ‘Acque Cuprulane’ [i.e. Caorle – editor’s note], where they were happily guzzling and splitting their prey, when the Venetian people surprised them. It was not a battle as much as a massacre: no man from Trieste or Istria had his life spared. After such splendid triumph, it was decided that the harbor would be known as ‘Maidens’ Harbor” from then on” (translated from F. Mutinelli, “Lessico veneto”, Venice 1852).
To this day, a historical regatta celebrates those legendary events.