Delta del Po
Parco Regionale Delta del Po: the colours of Nature at the mouth of the Po River.
The Parco Regionale Delta del Po is the largest park in the region with a surface area of about 60,000 hectares divided into six areas called "stations” which cover the southern part of the large Po Delta; this territory has a rich fauna, including a great number of birds that find their ideal habitat here. This is also one of the most interesting areas in Emilia Romagna for cultural heritage. Some of the main historical-artistic sites include Pomposa, Comacchio and Sant’Apollinare in Classe. The park only extends over the most southern part of the delta, which flows into the Adriatic Sea, and includes the Po River mouths of Goro and Volano. The area south of Goro also includes the mouths of some of the rivers that flow down from the Apennines, that is Reno, Senio, Lamone, Fiumi Uniti (Ronco and Montone), Bevano and Savio as well as extensive brackish and humid areas. The Park includes other particularly important environments such as the Bosco della Mesola and the Pinewoods of Ravenna and Cervia.
The variety of vegetal species of the Delta is of great interest despite the heavy intervention of man in the area. Typical sand vegetation can still be seen along the beaches. Searocket and Italian cocklebur can be found near the coast line while rushy wheat grass and marram grass grow slightly further inland; another typical plant of the dunes is sea holly.
In the Comacchio Valleys and in the Bertuzzi Valley, filled with flamingos in spring and autumn, the vegetation is rather peculiar due to the high level of salinity of the soil. The salicornia is a typical plant that grows in this type of soil; other plants that grow in this area, away from this particular type of soil, include the common ditch reed borders, tufts of sea rush and limonium which stands out with its showy flowers. The Bosco della Mesola, located in the northern part of the park, is one of the most important examples of natural woods in the Po Plain and includes some very large sized trees. The most common species found in the woods is the holm-oak, while narrow leaved ash, white poplar and common elm grow in the shallow parts between the dunes. English oak and European hornbeam grow in the western wooded area.
The Oasi di Punte Alberete near Ravenna is the last flooded forest in this region and its woodland area is of great natural interest. White water-lily, frogbit and floating plants grow near the ponds and ditches of sweet water, while tree species typical of humid areas grow on the crests of the dunes – so called “staggi”. In the Argenta Valleys there is also the Traversante, an example of woodlands which are regularly submerged.
The coastal landscape is mainly made up of pinewoods like the historical ones in Ravenna, San Vitale, Classe and Cervia, which consist mainly of umbrella pine, European hornbeam, holm-oak, and white poplar, while the most common flowers are orchids; along the coastline there are also pinewoods characterised by maritime pine and the Volano Pinewood, a nature reserve on the mouth of the homonymous branch of the Po River. The sweet water humid areas (Argenta valleys and the Punte Alberete – Mandriole Valley area) form an important habitat for vegetation typical of this type of land.
Trees include weeping willows and poplars, while the most common shrubs are “biangola”; sometimes tufts of tufted sedge can be seen in the flooded fields as well as spring snowflake and flowering rush. Rare species of orchids also grow in this habitat. Ditch reed grows at a reasonable depth while true aquatic species (white water-lily, yellow water-lily and fringed water-lily) can be found in the centre of the valleys where the water is between 50 cm and 2 metres deep.
Despite the impoverishment of the wildlife heritage of the Delta area over the centuries, in the last decades there has been a trend reversal and protected species have returned here to nest such as the common spoonbill, Mediterranean gull, slender- billed gull, sandwich tern and the lesser crested tern. Land predators such as badgers, foxes, weasels and beech-martens have also returned taking quickly possession of the plain. More than 250 species of birds can be sighted here; the highest number of species in the territory. The oystercatcher, snowy plover and the little tern nest on the quieter beaches while seagulls, terns, common redshanks, black-winged stilts and pied avocets lay their eggs in the lagoons and embanked areas. Reed thickets house the red heron, common tern, marsh harrier, great bittern, nightingale and other species. Many birds of prey are also present here, including the hobby, tawny owl and horned owl as well as rare species such as: glossy ibis and herons. The fauna of the Bosco della Mesola is mainly made up of mammals, such as fallow deer and deer. Other typical animals of the humid areas are the harvest mouse, water vole and water shrew; rabbits and nutrias have been recently introduced in this area. All the amphibian species found in the region can be found in the humid areas of the Delta with the exception of those which prefer the habitat of hills and mountains; sturgeons can be found passing in the humid coastal areas that communicate with seawater. Eels live in inland water areas; canals, rivers and ponds offer the ideal habitat for carp, tench, pike, pumpkinseed and black bullhead.
OPEN AIR MUSEUM
Visitors can find out more about the landscape and/or cultural aspects of the area by visiting the many interesting sites of the Po Delta. From north to south there are mansions and villages of great interest; these include, in addition to those previously mentioned: the imposing Castello di Mesola home of the new Environmental Education centre of the park, near the right bank of the Po River in Goro; Torre Abate, a 17th century water system; Abbazia di Pomposa, a monastic complex and Palazzo della Ragione; Goro and Gorino, departure point for boat trips; the town of Codigoro, much loved by the abbots of Pomposa; the Canneviè-Porticino valley home to herons, cormorants and ducks; the Bertuzzi Valley; the town of Comacchio with its prestigious buildings (Loggia dei Mercanti, Chiesa del Carmine and the Loggiato dei Cappuccini) and the Trepponti bridge, a unique work of architecture on water with five staircases built in 1634 to defend the town; Stazione Foce, starting point of the Comacchio Valleys historical-natural route; remains of the ancient settlement of Spina; Oasi Fossa di Porto; Argine Agosta and Oasi di Protezione Zavelea; Vallette di Ostellato, with an animal protection sanctuary of about 200 hectares with navigable canals; Casino di Campotto in Argenta, seat of the Centro di Documentazione Storico-Naturalistica; the Campotto, Bassarone and Vallesanta valleys. Also worth visiting.: the Ancona Valley and lake of Spina; the Vene di Bellocchio; the Palazzone di Sant'Alberto with the avifauna Visitor Centre of the Po Delta; the Riserva Naturale di Alfonsine with the Museo "Vincenzo Monti"; the Pialassa della Baiona lagoon; the Basilica di Sant'Apollinare in Classe built in the 6th century; the Oasi Naturalistiche Ortazzo e Ortazzino; the Foce Bevano, the Magazzini del Sale and the salines of Cervia where the little egret, limicola and anatidae can be sighted.
Ecomuseum of the Valli di Argenta, Via Cardinala, 1/c - 44010 Campotto si Argenta (FE)
Tel. +39 0532 808058 - Fax +39 0532 808001
Web: www.portaleargenta.it (Italian)
Marinati Manufacturing plant of Comacchio, Via Mazzini, 200 - 44022 Comacchio (FE)
Tel. +39 0533 81742 - Fax +39 0533 81742
Deer Museum of Mesola
Castello Estense - Piazza Umberto I - 44026 Mesola (FE) Mappa
Tel. +39 339 1935943
Museum of the Territory of Ostellato
Strada del Mezzano, 10 - 44020 Ostellato (FE) Mappa
Tel. +39 0533 681368 - Fax +39 0533 683082
NaTuRa Museum of Sant'Alberto
Natural Science Museum of Ravenna and Visitor Centre of the Po Delta Park Pineta S. Vitale and Pialasse di Ravenna Station.
Via Rivaletto, 25 - 48020 Sant'Alberto (RA) Mappa
Tel. +39 0544 528710-529260 - Fax +39 0544 528710
Web: www.atlantide.net/pal-santalberto (italian)
Suggested itineraries to discover more about the area:
From the Nazioni lake to the Canneviè Valley: bicycle itinerary, 1 hour.
Between the Reno River and the Comacchio Valleys: bicycle itinerary, 2 hours and 50 minutes.
San Vitale Pinewoods and Oasi di Punte Alberete: 3 hours.
From Lido di Classe to Foce Bevano: 2 hours and 50 minutes.
Santa Valley: 2 hours and 50 minutes.
Salines of Cervia: 1 hour.
Parco del Delta del Po Emilia Romagna Via Cavour, 11 - Comacchio (FE) Tel. +39 0533 314003-Fax:+39 0533 318007 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Delta 2000 Via Mezzano, 10 Ostellato (FE) Ph. +39 0533 681180-Fax: +39 0533 680515
IAT Tourist board - Ferrara Castello Estense Ph. +39 0532 209370-299303
IAT Tourist board - Ravenna Via Salara, 8/12 Ph. +39 0544 35404-35755
IAT Tourist board - Comacchio Piazza Folegatti, 28 Comacchio (FE) Ph. +39 0533 310161
How to get here
The six “stations” into which the park is divided can be easily reached by taking the toll-free motorway of the Lidi Ferraresi or the Ravenna exit off the A14 motorway , the SS306 Romea (Venice-Ravenna), the SS16 Adriatica (Ferrara-Rimini), and the E 45 (Rome-Ravenna)