Historians agree that the explanation is that Venice was founded on the islands by refugees from Roman cities such as Ravenna, Padua and Aquileia as they fled from invasions, first by Attila the Hun in the 5th century and then, a century later, by the Lombards, as the final remnants of the Roman Empire crumbled.
However, Paolo Mozzi, a researcher at the University of Padua geography department, said high-definition satellite photographs had revealed the ruins of an extensive town much closer to present day Venice at Altino – known in Roman times as Altinum – a little more than seven miles north of the city, close to Marco Polo airport.
“The hypothesis is that as Altinum also succumbed to the Barbarian invasions, the inhabitants fled farther down to the lagoon to build Venice on the islands, using some of the stones from their city,” he said. At its height, he said, Altinum had been an important trading and seafaring centre on the Adriatic, before it was overrun by Attila in the mid-5th century.
September 18, 2008
Origins of Venice
How the barbarians drove Romans to build Venice: