Il Parco del Delta del Po Emilia Romagna is a huge area set in the green of centuries-old woodlands, pinewoods and green areas, scattered with examples of art of supreme beauty. It is 54,050 hectares wide: the biggest of Italy’s regional parks.In this landscape between land and water, nature is intermingled with the man’s work: centuries of land reclamation have created a harmonic balance between preserved natural environments and those which were used as economic resources. This is why the Po Delta, which is divided into six areas so-called “Stations”, is part of UNESCO World Heritage. The six “Stations” are as follows:
Station 1 – Mesola, Goro and Volano;
Station 2 – Comacchio historical town:
Station 3 – Valli di Comacchio;
Station 4 – San Vitale Pinewood and Wetlands of Ravenna; Station 5 – Pinewood of Classe and Salt Pans in Cervia; Station 6 – Campotto di Argenta
Codigoro, a small town in the province of Ferrara, lies in the north-eastern side of the Po Delta Park and covers a territory of 17.000 hectares mostly devoted to agriculture. There are areas of naturalistic interest such as the Oasi di Canneviè and Porticino, small brackish valleys which are considered one of the most suggestive areas of the Park. Codigoro is located a few kilometres far from the first three stations of the Po Delta Park Emilia Romagna.
The first Station Volano – Mesola- Goro includes the Sacca di Goro, the mouth of the Po river, the beautiful Valli Bertuzzi and the Gran Bosco della Mesola.The port of Goro looks out onto a wide crescent – shaped cove, The Sacca di Goro, with an area of 2000 hectares. It is especially suitable for mussel farming, since it is 60-70 cm deep – the perfect depth for mussel farming. The fauna includes many species of water birds, either nesting ones – among them there is the red heron - or in transit, like the marsh harrier and the grebe. The marine life - in addition to the cultivated mussels - consists of oysters, grey mullet, eels, bream and bass.
The Scannone, also known as the “Isle of Love”, is a stretch of land which emerged as the Po Delta grew. Its low vegetation is composed essentially of marsh reeds, rushes, samphire and tamarisk: they all become a refuge for numerous birds. The only way to reach the island is by boat leaving from Goro or Gorino Ferrarese. The tourists are brought to the Goro Lighthouse, the only building on the island.
The Old lighthouse once showed sailors the way. Today it has been recovered and used as a natural observatory on the Sacca di Goro. It can be reached by walk or by bike along a nature trail or from the sea leaving from the port of Gorino.
The mouth of the Po river is located on the edge of the Sacca di Goro near the town of Lido di Volano. The variety of environments such as pine forests, river, wood, beach, reeds and lagoon, allows a wide range of sightings of different bird species. Valli Bertuzzi include “Valle Nuova” and “Val Cantone”, their extension is of about 2.000 hectares and they are used for fish farming. Along Acciaioli road, there is a birdwatching tower that allows a panoramic view over the fishing lagoon and often from there it is possible to see many flamingos which move here from the nearby Saline di Comacchio to find food.
The Gran Bosco della Mesola is a wood more than 1,000 hectares wide, situated between Po di Goro and Po di Volano with typical Mediterranean vegetation dominated by holm oaks. The wood embodies a 200 hectares nature reserve whose great naturalistic interest is due to its animal species, among which stands out the “deer of the dunes”.
In the first station there are also buildings of historical and artistic importance such as the Pomposa Abbey, the Palazzo del Vescovo, the Mesola Castle, the Torre della Finanza and some great hydraulic structures which help water to flow to the sea such as Torre Abate, Chiavica dell’Agrifoglio and Torre Palù.
The VIII-IX century Pomposa Abbey is situated 5 km far from Codigoro. The wonderful frescoes decorating the Basilica reveal that, in the Middle Ages, Pomposa was a centre of religious and civil power. The Church, with a nave and the two side aisles, was frescoed in the XIV century by some artists of the Bolognese school, among which the master Vitale. Some paintings portraying scenes from the Old and New Testament and from the Apocalypse are of great pathos. The monastic complex also includes a cloister with a central well, a room called Sala del Capitolo, a refectory with frescoes and Palazzo della Ragione.
The Este Castle in Mesola was built according to the will of Alfonso II - the last Duke of Ferrara - between 1578 and 1583. It housed the Este court during autumn hunting and summer parties. Today the Castle houses the Park's new Centre for Environmental Education, which provides visitors with the basic knowledge to understand this wonderful landscape, shaped by the river, the wood and the lagoons.
The second station of the Park is Comacchio - about 25 km far from Codigoro - with a historical town centre. It is also called “Little Venice”, since its original features are those typical of a lagoon town: crossed by canals and bridges. Right in the town centre it is possible to admire the Trepponti bridge, the Museo della Nave Romana and the Manifattura dei Marinati.
The Valli di Comacchio lagoons, central "station" of Parco del Delta del Po dell’Emilia – Romagna, were subject to reclaiming works from the end of the 19th century up to 1960. Nevertheless, expanses of water still cover more than 13,000 hectares. Water is the basic element for several important traditional activities, such as the breeding and fishing of many fish species, especially eels. The Saltpan of Comacchio, in the north-eastern part of the Valli is another micro-environment of great natural value. It was created on the mouth of the old Po di Eridano, which used to flow north of the present salt basins; The Valli site is the kingdom of Gulls and Terns - with 9 nesting species, which come here regularly to winter or stop while migrating. These ones and many other rare species such as, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Avocet, Black-winged stilt and Collared Pratincole, have chosen the lagoons as their ideal reproduction habitat. Human activities have left many important traces, mainly linked to fishing and to the life of this "water civilisation"; indeed, the main routes of the Valli are scattered with Casoni di valle and fishing lodges. At present, it is possible to follow an historical-naturalistic itinerary (by boat or on foot) which, starting from Stazione Foce, touches the restored Casoni.
Following the main road Romea direction Ravenna, we meet the seven Lidi di Comacchio for an extension of 23 km. They are seven seaside resorts where it is possible to spend holidays in contact with nature. The Lido Volano is 16 km far from Codigoro and the northernest of all, the closest to the Po Delta and the most interesting from a naturalistic point of view. Together with the beach, the Lido Volano has a pine wood that is part of the Natural Reserve called Po di Volano.
Codigoro is 50 km far from the city of Ferrara. It was considered an important medieval centre reaching its splendour during the Renaissance time with the Este family. Wonderful palaces, houses, churches, squares, streets, gardens and works of art represent its main attractions. It has been recognised by UNESCO as a “wonderful example of a town planned in the Renaissance time and still keeping its historical centre thoroughly intact”. This important recognition to the city and its territory has made this urban and naturalistic landscape unique in the world.