Explore the Po River with its ancient cities and the Venetian Lagoon home to Venice and many historic islands. The Po is navigable from its mouth to Pavia and along the way you can visit historic cities like Bologna, Cremona, Ferrara, Mantua, Padua and Verona. Just to the north, the Venetian Lagoon is an enclosed bay at the northern extremity of the Adriatic Sea in which the city of Venice is situated.
It is crescent-shaped and lies within the arms of three strips of land that are broken along a length of some 30 miles (45 km), creating a marshy environment that is fed by rivers yet flushed by salt water from the Adriatic. Many of the Lagoon’s islands are reclaimed land and some entirely artificial. Some are essentially dunes, including those of the coastal strip (Lido, Pellestrina and Treporti). Murano (glassmaking), Burano (colourful houses and lace) and Torcello are the most important islands on the lagoon. Two spiritual islands San Francesco del Deserto (Franciscan friary) and San Lazzaro degli Armeni (an early 18th century Armenian monastery) have a very particular charm and beauty. Other islands sport brightly coloured houses, painted fishing boats and tiny churches.
The Po Delta is where the Po River empties into the Adriatic Sea south of Venice. It is has large wetland areas and is one of Italy’s richest bird habitats. The Delta del Po Park is a nature reserve famous for its pink flamingoes, herons and snipe and is characterised by large fresh and salt water basins, lagoons, fishing valleys, rivers, canals and floodplains that appear suddenly in the midst of countryside. Towns in the Delta are Comacchio, Argenta, Ostellato, Goro, Mesola, Codigoro, Ravenna, Alfonsine, and Cervia.
The Po is the longest river in Italy at 405 miles (652 km), rising in the Alps on Italy’s western border and emptying into the Adriatic Sea in the east. The Po is navigable from its mouth to Pavia. From the Delta vessels uses the Bianca Canal and other canals to reach the main Po River at Adria. As it crosses northern Italy it forms the drainage basin for Italy’s widest and most fertile plain receiving the waters of many tributaries from the Alps, Maritime Alps and Apennines. Cities along its course include historic cities like Bologna, Cremona, Ferrara, Mantua, Padua and Verona.