A dip into the countryside
From the banks of the Po Secchia
A dip into the countryside
Itinerary: Cycle itinerary
Length: 50 Km Time: 4 hours (stops
Arrive at: Quistello.
by train, on the Ferrara-Suzzara line (for transport of bicycles telephone 0386
Road surface: both asphalted and
Bicycle needed: robust, suitable for uneven
The natural landscape we can admire from the banks of the Po, from its enbankments and from those of the Secchia is extremely poetic. Though at first sight it can seem a monotonous plain , it is, in reality, a complex and delicate ecosystem, which has been formed with the passing of time. The vegetation is rich not only in poplars, often cultivated, but also in willows, alders, false acacias, hawthorns, hop and multi-coloured flowers. The fauna includes many species of bird, from the most common sparrows to the kingfisher, as well as daytime and nocturnal birds of prey. There are also fish and wild mammals e.g. several rodents, hares and foxes able to guarantee the delicate food balance present in nature. All of this is part of a context in which the presence of man predominates; in fact, it is impossible to forget that this is a thickly and actively populated area. Nevertheless, here the green is abundant and able to involve everyone who dips into it. The eco-tourist who decides to set out on this itinerary is a person who longs for close contact with nature, who dedicates time to observing its numerous characteristics and who travels with a “clean” means of transport.
The whole route winds along embankment roads, both asphalted and not, and allows brief detours or stops in order to visit some note-worthy places of natural or architectural interest.
The itinerary starts from Felonica. This village, which borders on the province of Ferrara, presents some buildings worth visiting. First of all, the chiesa parrocchiale dell’Assunta (Parish church of Our Lady of the Assumption), in Romanesque style, existing as early as 944 and recently restored, is a beautiful country parish church of the times of Matilde di Canossa. Secondly, Palazzo Cavriani, now the town hall. The Waldensian Evangelical Church, which, though not particularly remarkable from the architectural point of view, has important religious significance.
Also interesting is the eighteenth century chiesa parrocchiale della Natività della Vergine (Parish church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin) of Quatrelle; it is possible to reach this little place from Felonica (after 6 km) either taking the provincial road, or going along the Po embankment, towards Ferrara.
The bicycle itinerary we propose starts from the church-square of the chiesa parrocchiale dell’Assunta, it continues along the river embankment and then turns left.
After that, you go beyond Caposotto and reach Sermide. Before the centre of the village, it is possible to have a break at the “oasi Digagnola”, going down to the right in the area of the high-water bed, following the signs directly from the river embankment. It is an ecosystem which shows the typically damp environment of the area, illustrating plants and a route with signs suggesting some physical exercises.
he centre of Sermide is worth visiting. Go down the first road to the village from the embankment, and on your right you will see the church of the Capucins, with its monumental altar and which dates back to 1560. Going towards the centre you will find the neo-gothic chiesa parrocchiale dei Santi Pietro e Paolo (parish church of the Saints Peter and Paul), dating back to 1865.
From here, taking via Indipendenza, we arrive at Piazza del Municipio (Town hall square). Here there is a tower, which is all that remains of the ancient castle. Behind the town hall there is the small but graceful Piazza Gonzaga.
Going back up the Po bank from the village centre, you can see the structure which houses the “Canottieri” (Boating club).
It was built in 1924 and was used as a coal-yard. From here coal used to be transported by aerial rope-way to the nearby sugar refinery. This building, almost unique in its kind, is particularly charming as it overlooks the river.
Going on, you pass under the bridge which connects the province of Mantua with that of Rovigo, and, after less than 2 km, you arrive at Moglia di Sermide. From the embankment there you can see the church and the bell tower of the Fascist period.
Continuing in our itinerary, after 1 km or so you arrive at the land reclamation plant of the Consorzio di Bonifica “Agro Mantovano-Reggiano”. These buildings, built around the end of the nineteenth century, are of great importance, not only from an artistic point of view, (i.e. for their unquestionable architectural beauty), but also historically and culturally, since they represent a fundamental moment of transition in the economy of this area, i. e. how man succeeded in controlling the river, at least partially, by turning a wet and unhealthy environment into fertile agricultural land. From the land reclamation plant, going along the main embankment for about 1.5 km you reach the ENEL power station.
Beyond it, on the right in a large high-water bed area, it is possible, with a bit of luck, to see the typical local fauna: pheasants, hares and buzzards.
On the left you meet the tiny centre of Carbonarola. If you make a 200 metre detour and go to the hamlet, you can see the chiesa parrocchiale dell’Immacolata Concezione (Parish church of the Immaculate Conception) (1649), which has a peculiar oval shape.
Continue the route by going back to the embankment and as you go along, you will find several ways down to the right, giving you some beautiful views of the Po. For example, after 1.7 km after Carbonarola, you can either go down into the high-water bed in an area which opens onto a large beach, or continue for 1 km and take the path on your right which leads to a viewpoint.
4.5 km along the route from Carbonarola you arrive at Carbonara di Po, where you can find the entrance of the Riserva Naturale “Isola Boscone” ( “Boscone Island” Natural Reserve), managed by LIPU (Italian Association for the Protection of Birds).
The wooded area offers delightful walks in the underwood, which gives you the chance to see various examples of plants, flowers and birds, both non-migratory and migratory. After your visit, an embankment slope, opposite the entrance to the reserve, takes you down to the village.
At the point where the strada comunale (local road) meets the strada Provinciale, you will see the chiesa parrocchiale dell’Assunta (Parish church of Our Lady of the Assumption). It was built in 1795 and has some frescoes awaiting restoration.
From the church-square, going along the strada provinciale ferrarese for 200 metres towards the right, on the left you can see Villa Bisighini, seat of the town-hall, dating back to the beginning of the twentieth century, and representing a significant example of the neo liberty of this area.
Near it, you cannot miss the privately owned villa Gavazzoni.
From here it is possible to return on the Po embankment either by taking the same road as before, or by following the strada provinciale until you find on your right the incline leading to the embankment.
From this point onwards a stretch of the route of some 8,5 km or so continues on a track, which initially is rather uneven but becomes smoother.
From the bank you can see the small villages of Borgofranco sul Po and Bonizzo.
At this point the high-water bed area finishes, and the route runs directly along the Po. Following a charming route, flanked on the left with cultivated fields and on the right with a thick vegetation of poplars, willows, ash-trees and elms, through which you can glimpse the Po, you arrive in Revere.
Here the road is asphalted and you can see the bridge and the thermo-electric station of Ostiglia.
Revere is interesting both from an architectural point of view, and for the places of interest it offers to the visitor. The embankment road you have followed above leads directly into the town. Just after passing under the bridge, you will see a roundabout. From there, following the sign “centro” you arrive directly on the main street, “Coro Italia”, where there is the Chiesa parrocchiale della Beata Vergine Annunziata (Parish church of Our Lady of the Annunciation).
Built between 1750 and 1775, this sacred building of late baroque style has a distinctive convex façade, adorned with frames, pilaster strips, and niches. The inside of the church is also extremely beautiful. It has a unique nave and side-altars frescoed by Giuseppe Milani, as well as two paintings, i.e. an “Annunciazione” and a “Madonna con Santa Chiara” (an Annunciation and Our Lady with Santa Chiara) by Giuseppe Bazzani .
From the church, taking the main road, under fourteenth century porticos, you arrive at the porta dell’Orologio (Clock Gate).
Following the signs “Museo del Po” (Po Museum) and “Mostre” (Exhibitions), you soon arrive at Palazzo Ducale (fifteenth century). Before entering, you will see the tower in the square.
Inside the Palazzo there is much to attract the visitors’ attention. First of all, the architecture of the building, in which the characteristics of fortress, castle and villa merge, as well as the frescoes which adorn a large portion of the walls. There is also the “Museo del Po”, housed on the third floor. Here the various elements which characterize the bond of man with the River are illustrated, e. g. archeological finds, river transport, cartography, the mills and the local fauna. Finally, on the top floor there is the “Young Museum”, an exhibition and collection of modern art paintings and sculptures by artists from all over the world. For a small town in the Po Valley, this is an exceptional collection, which attracts visitors also from far and wide cities.
From Piazza del Castello, go along via Verdi to reach via Argine Po. Going back to our route, you can admire on the right another high-water bed landscape, and on the left an enchanting view of Revere.
Along the road, after about 3 km you will notice on the left a former rifle-range dating back to the beginning of the twentieth century. 600 metres further on, there is a path on the right which leads down to a viewpoint.
After 1.5 km you arrive at Pieve di Coriano. To go into the village, go down the slope which leads directly to the church square. Here you will see a country parish church dating back to the times of Matilde di Canossa (1085), dedicated to the Assunzione della Beata Vergine Maria (Assumption of the Blessed Vergin Mary).
This Romanesque church, which was restored in 1922 and to which a new bell-tower was added in 1934, still bears testimony to its original beauty, including the inside, with its a nave and two aisles with “cotto”pillars.
Go back up the slope and continue on the left along the main embankment road. Here some stretches of the road are not asphalted.
At Quingentole, some 6 km from Pieve di Coriano, there is a picnic area, called “Piarda a Po”.
Vista panoramica del Po Vista panoramica del Po At Burana, 1.5 further on, go past the irrigation plant of Sabbioncello and continue along a largely non-asphalted track. This is near the point where the Secchia flows into the Po, and to see it you should follow one of the paths which go down to the right.
Where the track meets the main, non embankment road, you turn immediately right by crossing the bridge over the Secchia and turn immediately left back onto the embankment road.
Follow the embankment of the Secchia, and you come to a large drainage plant. This section of the embankment is non-asphalted only for a short initial stretch.
The vegetation is so thick that often it is not possible to see the flowing water. The asphalted road, largely free of traffic, is an easy way into Quistello.
At the end of this stretch of bank, cross the bridge and turn immediately right towards the town centre, where you will see Palazzo della Palestra, a late 1920s building designed by the local architect Giuseppe Gorni together with Peppino Monaca.
In via Cesare Battisti there is the chiesa parrocchiale di San Bartolomeo, built in the seventeenth century using the stones of the demolished Gonzaga castle: the spacious interior includes a small but beautiful chapel. The Ferrara-Suzzara railway line will take you back at the starting point of the route at Felonica . Followthe signs to the station from the main square.
A few kilometres from Quistello, at Moglia, the ideal place for cyclists is “Artar Bikes”, which offers a vast choice of bicycles, technical assistance, and spare parts. Besides, during the week, it is possible to visit the Museo della Bicicletta del xx secolo (Museum of the twentieth century bycicle) which is still being completed but which has numerous very interesting pieces.
We would like to thank the Consorzio di Comuni dell’Ostigliese Destra Secchia and ASI s.p.a.