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Italy’s Po Delta: almost everyone has heard of it, but how many have actually been there? The adventure begins here!
The Po Delta includes a vast territory that extends from the mouth of the Brenta River, south of the Venice lagoon, to the mouth of the Reno River, north of Ravenna. Some of the major rivers in Italy flow into this system: the Po, the Adige, the Brenta, the Reno, the Bacchiglione, and the Tartaro. This creates a unique environment in which the waterways are all connected and branch off into various arms before flowing into the sea.
I know these areas well, being originally from Adria, the gateway to the Venetian Po Delta.
It is a constantly changing environment. For instance, just take the old Goro lighthouse, which is now lost in the marshy hinterland due to the advancement of the coastline in the last few decades making the construction of a new lighthouse necessary.
It stands alone on the Isola dell’Amore (Island of Love), a wild and romantic strip of land reachable only by boat and voted as one of the thirteen best Italian beaches, according to the Italian environmental association, Legambiente.
Think of the villages built on strips of land that eventually disappeared into thin air a few decades after they were reclaimed by the water and swallowed up by storm surges and swamps, like Bonelli Sinistro.
Not to mention the long strips of fossilized sand dunes, narrow islands parallel to the coastline, that remain trapped in the countryside. An example of this phenomenon is visible in San Basilio, a small hamlet with a church dating back to the 9th century, built on a previous place of worship whose remains are still visible.
When to Visit
Visiting the Po Delta is an absolute must in any season, but I would warn you that, if you choose the summer, you will be attacked by clouds of hungry mosquitoes that will make for a rather unpleasant experience. My advice is to visit in the spring with its milder temperatures or the beginning of autumn with its changing colors and spectacular sunsets. I would advise against winter due to the bitter cold and the fog, a frequent phenomenon.
The Venetian Side of the Po Delta Park: The Best Locations
Each river branch takes us on a discovery of another incredible place.
At the mouth of the Adige River, you’ll find a panoramic tower for a splendid view of the coast. Stop there to take your photos!
In the immediate vicinity, I recommend going to the Porto Caleri Botanical Gardens. A section of the gardens with its famous wooden walkway can be visited year-round free of charge, while another part requires a ticket. The walk winds through the beach, pine forest, and the lagoon.
Following the course of the Po di Levante, one of the many branches of the delta, you’ll arrive at Porto Levante. From here, you can hop on the ferry and reach Cavallari Scanno and the Ghebo refuge. The ferry is only available if you have a reservation at the restaurant or sunbeds on the beach.
The remote Boccasette Beach, with its fine sand, is located at the mouth of the Po di Maistra and is the perfect place for a walk. This is also the cheapest place to spend a nice day at the beach!
The river island of Polesine Camerini and what is known as the Sacca di Canarin (Canarin embayment) extends between the Po della Pila and the Po delle Tolle. Here you’ll find the charming Il Canarin Restaurant elevated on stilts. It offers simple, traditional lagoon cuisine and seafood such as eel, mussels, clams, and pink oysters. An anecdote is that Il Canarin was featured on a popular Italian TV show, Quattro Ristoranti with host Alessandro Borghese. In this area, you’ll also notice an impressive 250-meter-high chimney from a former power plant.
On the other bank of the Po delle Tolle lies the town of Scardovari, full of renowned restaurants such as Al Fritulin or the historic inn Da Renata.
Continuing on our delta itinerary, we reach the Spiaggia delle Conchiglie, or shell beach, the most iconic of the delta and also, Barricata Island’s golden beach. To access it, you will have to cross a pontoon bridge with a fantastic view of the marina and houseboats.
Not far away, you can’t miss the wonderful Scardovari Embayment: a shallow inlet where the delta’s mussel, clam and oyster farms are teeming. The embayment can be visited by traveling along its banks by car, motorbike, or bicycle or via a boat tour departing from the villages of Scardovari or Santa Giulia.
At the deepest point of the embayment, lies the natural oasis of Ca’ Mello, formed in correspondence with a buried branch of the Po, and the famous delta lavender. These fragrant lavender fields are visited every year by thousands of tourists looking for the perfect shot. Visitors will also find many personal care products and essential oils made from this healing and beneficial flower.
Finally, treat yourself to a nice stroll on the pontoon bridges crossing the Po della Donzella in Santa Giulia and the Po di Goro in Gorino Veneto.
Where to See the Flamingos
If you love native lagoon species, like me, you will have the opportunity to observe pink flamingos and other marsh birds that settle in the interior valleys of the delta. The best observation points are along the Via delle Valli, but just be aware that parking is scarce and the road is long and has no services. The very best way to see them would be by bike.
I hope I have intrigued you with this short tour filled with ideas and tips for visiting the Delta. Spectacular and magical in every way, the Delta is sure to be a great adventure!
I’ll close with this exquisitely melancholic excerpt from the novel The Adventure by Giovanni Truppi, a musician who traveled here in the post-pandemic period. This quote summarizes, at least, for me, the effect this landscape has on its visitors.
The sea is absent, but water is everywhere: lagoons, rivers, marshes. Every now and then some farmers’ houses pop up. In the long empty stretches, the land is as if mixed with the gray of the clouds up to the belly of the sky and seems like another sea of another color.
The Adventure, Giovanni Truppi
About the Author
Giulia Crepaldi lives in Adria, Veneto, the town which, according to tradition, gave its name to the Adriatic Sea. She is a teacher by profession, but her passion is writing short stories and poems.
After obtaining her linguistic diploma, she attended the Faculty of Modern Literature in Padua where she cultivated a natural predisposition for literature, reading and writing, fueled by great curiosity and creativity. She writes short stories and two of these, “A Journey Through Memories” and “Invisible”, won her two literary prizes. One in Turin on the occasion of the International “Trofeo Penna D’Autore” competition and one in Lendinara in the “l’Arcobaleno della Vita” competition. Her literary inclination therefore shifts to poetry and she continues to experiment a lot in that area. Some of her poems were showcased in cultural events in her city: for example, “Anima Gemella” won fifth prize in the “Adria in Love” event. Her writing is defined as evocative and emotional due to the frequent use of imagery and description.
Her humanistic education is enriched by two interesting experiences: the collaboration as a freelance journalist with the newspaper “La Voce di Rovigo” and the internship as a press officer in a communication and marketing agency in Padua.
Her strong interest in literature led her to undertake her current profession as an Italian teacher.
Her passions, in addition to writing, are nature walks, dancing, drawing, music and singing, and travel.
Giulia likes to explore and finds that traveling is the best way to get “lost” while finding your true self.