The Po Delta, a mosaic of biodiversity and cultural traditions

The Po Delta, a mosaic of biodiversity and cultural traditions

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

UNESCO World Heritage Site

Straddling Emilia-Romagna and Veneto and covering an area of over 54,000 hectares, lies the most important wetlands in Italy and one of the most significant in Europe: the Po Delta. An extraordinary mosaic of biodiversity thrives in this fascinating landscape of land and water. Hosting a range of natural treasures, it was designated a World Heritage Site in 1999 and a UNESCO MAB Reserve in 2015. What makes the area unique is the endless variety of environments and cultural attractions that stand alongside each other: the relics of the primitive Mediterranean scrub, the hygrophilous forest, the coastal lagoons, the brackish valleys and the freshwater wetlands mix with ancient vestiges of Etruscan and Roman settlements, Byzantine mosaics and Benedictine and Este architecture.

The Ravenna part of the Po Delta Park, bordered to the north by the Comacchio Valleys, has pine forests and “pialasse”, large salt-water lagoons. It boasts many fascinating natural areas as well as sites of cultural interest such as the basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe, a UNESCO monument since 1996. Silent valleys that stretch out towards the sea provide a home for rare specimens of vegetation and fauna such as the flooded forest of Punte Alberete, the centuries-old pine forests of San Vitale and Classe and the ancient salt pans of Cervia, a favourite place for flocks of pink flamingos.

The Po Delta is a resting and breeding area for over 350 species of birds and hence attracts many birdwatching enthusiasts, thanks also to providing observation sites and areas with facilities.

In different seasons the park can be visited on foot, by boat, by bicycle or on horseback, permitting visitors to enjoy close contact with the culture, traditions, and gastronomic specialities of this borderland. All the information that may help you enjoy an experience of slow and sustainable tourism can be found in the visitor centres of Cervia, Sant’Alberto, Savio and Alfonsine, the last of which also has a small nature reserve that offers refuge to numerous plant and animal species.

Photo credits

1. Flamingos in the Salina pools, arch. Parco Delta del Po
2. The Sweet Salt of Cervia, Max Costa, arch. Parco Delta del Po
3. Night heron, arch. Parco Delta del Po
4. Winter birdwatching in the Po Delta, Max Costa, arch. Parco Delta del Po
5. The Pialassa della Baiona, arch. Parco Delta del Po

Food – The sweet salt of Cervia

Cervia’s artisanal sea salt, a Slow Food praesidium and truly the town’s white gold, is recognized as a special, “sweet” salt due to the purity of the sodium chloride and the absence of other salts normally contained in seawater. A fortunate combination of climate and processing means that the bitter salts do not settle in the Cervia salt pans except in minimal quantities, leaving the salt with a particularly pleasant and delicate taste. Thus, food flavours are enhanced without altering them and this explains why Cervia Salt is chosen by top chefs while also being ideal for enhancing other gastronomic specialities.

The origin of the Cervia salt pans is very ancient, probably Greek. In Roman times, salt was central to the economy and was used as a currency of exchange (hence the Latin term “salarium”), for the preservation of food and for various types of processing including leather, glass, and ceramics.

Wine – Bosco Eliceo DOC Fortana

Along the Adriatic coast, between the provinces of Ravenna and Ferrara, stretches one of the most particular wine-growing areas of Emilia Romagna. It is crossed by the Po Delta Park and bordered to the north by the mouth of the river and to the south by Cervia. This is the Bosco Eliceo, also called the Vini delle Sabbie (Sand wine) area due to the sandy soils from which its four types of DOC wines originate: Fortana, Merlot, Sauvignon and Bianco del Bosco. The main grape of this coastal strip dotted with dunes, woods, salt valleys and salt marshes, is Fortana, also called Uva D’Oro, from Côte d’Or in Burgundy, the area from which it is believed that Renée of France brought it in dowry to the Duke d’Este.

With little alcohol and great flavour thanks to the environment in which these sometimes centuries-old vines are found, Fortana is ideal for an aperitif or for fish dinners.

Listen to the reading of the page

Highlight or select text to hear the site’s textual content.
Press PLAY or PAUSE at the foot of the site.