Abbey of Pomposa Travel Guide

Visit the Abbazia di Pomposa, a Benedictine Monastery famous for its library

A visit to the Abbazia di Pomposa might amaze the tourist not expecting to see great art and architecture out in the Emilia Romagna countryside. Even more amazing might be the food that is available on the site. One might, finally, get "amazed out" by the wine whose grapes are grown in the sandy soils of the Po Delta, "Sandy Vines" the old codgers call them. Ask your friends to recall the last time they sipped a Bosco Eliceo. Never? Tell them it goes well with eel.

The abbey, it should be noted, is an ex-abbey. There are no longer monks pleading for silence from chattering tourists. Flooding of the Po and the resulting Malarial outbreaks drove them out long ago. If you go in the off season you might have the place mostly to yourself.

In any case, if you happen to be driving around near the town of Codigoro in the province of Ferarra in the Emilia Romagna, you'll start to see signs to the Abbazia di Pomposa. Follow them, especially if it's lunch time. You will be rewarded by being immersed in a tranquil parkland with enticingly handsome Romanesque buildings all around.

The church here was founded in the 6th century. There was a Benedictine abbey on the site from 874, reaching its peak around the year 1000. Its amazing bell tower is like a lighthouse; you can see it well before you even approach the abbey grounds. It was also a lighthouse of culture along the ancient pilgrimage route called the Via Romea, it had one of the most extensive monastic libraries of the times.

The free-standing bell towner was begun in 1063 and took several decades to complete. It stands a whopping 48 meters tall, and is one of the finest surviving bell towers from the Romanesque period.

The church, dedicated to St. Mary, is impressively frescoed inside, and the floors are of mosaic inlaid stone.

Location Map of the Abbey of Pomposa

Use the controls on the left to zoom out to see the surrounding countryside. The town of Codigoro is directly west of the Abbey.

Pictures of the Abbey of Pomposa

Palazzo della Ragione - Mid-11th Century - Restored 1925-30

palazzo delle ragione

Church Exterior Decoration and Carved Window

church window

Church Exterior Detail

abbey of pomposa
bell tower picture

The Bell Tower

The 48 meter high, free-standing campanile was built in 1063 by the architect Deusdedit is divided into 9 levels, each receiving more light than the one below. On the facade of the church to the right of the bell tower you can also see the ceramic bowl inserts that came from Egypt, Tunisia and Sicily.

Food and Wine

There are two restaurants on the grounds, both to the north of the Abbey. The Abbazia Pomposa is the least expensive of the two. It features the cuisine of the Ferrara region, which includes the adjacent Po delta lands. The area around Comacchio was known for eel, which is anguilla (pl. anguille) in Italian. Order them if you're so inclined.

Ristorante La Cueva, just up the street, offers more creative cooking and is a bit more expensive.

Wash them down with a local wine, called Bosco Eliceo.

"The presence in this area of the Etruscans and Byzantines was fundamental and later on very important issue was the arrival of the Benedictine monks, who founded Pompsa and Classe Abbey. The monks began drainage works, and introduced more suitable agriculture like the vine-growing. In the XVI century in the golden era of the Estensi's court, there was a further development in the vine-growing in Bosco Eliceo's area, whose influence can be noticed also in the area near Ravenna Province. The vine-trees along the coast are grown on sandbanks, among hold-oaks forests." ~ Il Vini delle Sabbie

Interestingly, the sand they were planted in prevented philoxera outbreaks, so the vines survived and to this day are called Sandy Vines.

If you like the wine, there is a winery south of the abbey, Corte Madonnina, where you can taste and buy.

Near Abbey of Pomposa

An interesting 20 minute drive takes you to the town of Comacchio, where you can take an interesting wetland tour that teaches you about the eel trade in the Po delta territory. A little over an hour on the train or by car from Comacchio takes you to the Byzantine mosaics of Ravenna. It takes just over an hour to get from Ravenna to Ferarra.

Where to Stay near the Abbey

There are hotels in Codigoro; search for them using the box below. You can also stay in Comacchio. We had a great stay and highly recommend the affordable Al Ponticello.

To the west of the Abbey where the map shows Risorante il Pentagramma  you'll find the Oasi Bianco resort, a short walk from the Abbey.

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