Frame To Frame – Bob and Jean

The Enchanted Landscape of the Po River Delta, Italy

The Enchanted Landscape of the Po River Delta, Italy

fishing houses along a fishing basin, po river delta, italy

Ready to explore the Po River Delta, the biggest wetlands in Europe, Bob and I were off the sheets early on our first full day in the region.  The enchanted landscape covers an area of 140,000 hectares, so under a crystal clear sky, we set off in the direction of Parco Regionale Veneto del Delta del Po.

a cat entering our lodging, po river delta, italy

As part of our wake-up call that morning, soft meowing at a shuttered window of our farmhouse alerted us to the farm’s tortoiseshell cat pleading to enter our warm confines.

a cat drinking milk, po river delta, italy

The friendly feline quickly lapped up a saucer of warm milk.

a farm cat, po river delta, italy

Elsa was a happy cat.  While making chirrupy noises, she kneaded the floor with her front paws.  By the time the rooster crowed, we were under way.

a map of parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

The plan was to revisit the areas seen the previous evening, but that was easier said than done.

parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

With dikes and canals, bridges and channels, and sand dunes and wetlands woven together to create a maze of possible routes, it took us quite sometime to find ourselves where we wanted to be.  Parco Regionale Veneto del Delta del Po is the northern park of the two regional parks established to protect the delta lands.

parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

The longest river in Italy, the Po begins its journey in the Cottian Alps of the north.  Before emptying into the Adriatic Sea, the river divides into seven tributaries with 14 mouths.

parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

This complex river creates a delta with hundreds of small channels and five primary ones, Po di Maestra, Po della Pila, Po delle Tolle, Po di Gnocca and Po di Goro.

parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

The Po River Delta was added to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves by the International Coordinating Council of UNESCO’S Man and the Biosphere Program in June of 2015, a couple of months before we visited the area.  It is one of the most appealing natural oases in Italy.

parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

The delta is rich in natural habitats ranging from pine forests, brackish closed lagoons, rivers and riparian habitat, open coastal lagoons, freshwater wetlands and sand dunes.

a common greenshank, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

As Bob and I navigated the myriad narrow roads atop the embankments, frequent stops were made to photograph birds including this Common Greenshank.

an abandoned stone house, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

Periodically, there was evidence of some past habitation in a time before the delta lands became protected.

the rice harvest, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

All around Po Delta Park, vast expanses of the moist and fertile flood plain are largely preserved for agriculture with cereal crops being the primary focus.  We were surprised to learn that rice is included in those crops grown, but it makes sense given the quantity of water required for irrigation.

egrets after the rice harvest, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

As farm machinery moved from one field to the next, clouds of Great Egrets, Gray Herons and other birds converged on the stubble to glean rice left behind.

parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

Touring Parco Regionale Veneto del Delta del Po meant that Bob and I were always surrounded by water.  Because of the vast range in habitats, over 370 species of resident, migratory and migratory-stopover birds shelter, breed and find nourishment in the area.  Birds outnumber humans by far!

black-winged stilts, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

Black-winged Stilts shared one pond with a Pied Avocet.  Both species nest in the Delta in the spring.  In repose on one leg, the Stilts did not disturb the glassy surface of the water.

a common snipe, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

On the nearby point, a Common Snipe probed the mud with its long beak.

a great crested grebe, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

We were fortunate to come across an Eurasian Marsh Harrier and this Great Crested Grebe, both breeding species of the Po River Delta.

a greater flamingo colony, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

Bob and I were particularly thrilled to find the colony of 10,000 Greater Flamingos.  Considered the jewel of the lagoons, the Greater Flamingos reside in the mudflats throughout the year after raising 2,000 chicks in the spring.

greater flamingos, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

Pacing the shallow saltwater lagoon, Greater Flamingos stir up the mud using their feet to uncover shrimp, mollusks, seeds and algae.  With their heads under water, the Flamingos filter the water through their bills to capture the tiny morsels of food.

bob and his car, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

At lunchtime, Bob and I simply parked our car on top of one dike.  Beneath a blue sky with sunshine lighting the flat surface of the water, we were lulled by a soundtrack of reeds rustling on one side, water gently lapping on the other, and wings beating overhead as Herons made their way from one lagoon to another.

a wall brown butterfly, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

As Bob and I moved around Parco Regionale Veneto del Delta Del Po, we noticed a great diversity of plants on the coastal dunes and sand bars.  A large variety of butterflies were attracted to the blossoms, so we took advantage of our lunchtime break to photograph a few such as this Wall Brown Butterfly.

jean taking a photo, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

We spent long periods of time admiring the butterflies, but the winged beauties were so numerous that we will feature them to great effect in a separate post.

cyclists, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

After our picnic, Bob and I planned to make inquiries about a boat tour that sets sail from Santa Giulia.  The flat and windswept landscape of the Delta lands meant that we were sharing the road with quite a few cyclists as we made our way in that direction.

the pontoon of santa giulia, floating bridge, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

In order to reach our destination, it was necessary to cross another of the many canals, but this time, it was by no ordinary means.

the pontoon of santa giulia, floating bridge, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

One of only 3 remaining floating bridges in the Po River Delta is the pontoon of Santa Giulia.  Ponte di Barche across the Po della Donzella is made from boats linked together.  This historical floating artifact is still necessary to link communities across the river.

the pontoon of santa giulia, floating bridge, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

A floating bridge is one of the most characteristic and original structures of the Po Delta.  Daily users are reminded of the difficulties and hardships experienced when trying to keep contact with villagers on the opposite shore.  The unique means of crossing the waterway resulted in a very noisy ride, indeed.

sign for oasi di ca' mello, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

Deciding that a boat tour was not the right fit for us, Bob and I proceeded to a nearby preserve with walking trails.

oasi di ca' mello, oasis of ca' mello, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

Upon arriving at Oasi di Ca’ Mello, the Oasis of Ca’ Mello, we discovered it to be on the Island of Donzella along the edge of a very large lagoon, the Sacca Degli Scardovari.

bob at the visitors' centre, oasi di ca' mello, oasis of ca' mello, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

It became apparent right away that this portion of delta land was under redevelopment to protect the biodiversity of its natural landscape.

jean at oasi di ca' mello, oasis of ca' mello, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

The area of Oasi di Ca’ Mello is a portion of the marshy basin that once existed at the mouth of an ancient branch of the Po River, the Ca’ Mello Po.  In 1936, the Ca’ Mello Canal was built to feed water from the river into inland fishing basins or valleys.

oasi di ca' mello, oasis of ca' mello, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

Extensive flooding in 1966 led to the installation of a water drainage pump in 1985.  In draining the amphibious territory, the area slowly was transformed by eliminating marsh flora and fauna for lack of water.

oasi di ca' mello, oasis of ca' mello, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

Since 1990, water was gradually reintroduced into the Ca’ Mello Canal, and its flow is regulated to create basins of varying depths.

oasi di ca' mello, oasis of ca' mello, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

Trees and shrubs suitable for a marsh environment have been reintroduced, and the management of water has allowed reed beds and aquatic plants to regain a foothold.

the visitors' centre, oasi di ca' mello, oasis of ca' mello, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

The original traditional farmhouse has been converted into a Visitors’ Centre, but our visit coincided with a weekend closure.  There was not another soul around as Bob and I explored Oasis of Ca’ Mello.

an interpretive sign, oasi di ca' mello, oasis of ca' mello, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

We were left to our own devices to interpret the sights as we walked the trails.  Knowing the Italian language would have been a real benefit.

a bridge, oasi di ca' mello, oasis of ca' mello, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

Reparations had not extended to all the infrastructure, so we had to be selective and cautious.

oasi di ca' mello, oasis of ca' mello, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

Our explorations were hindered by overgrown paths, weather-worn interpretive signs, and observation decks that appeared unsafe.

a tree tunnel, oasi di ca' mello, oasis of ca' mello, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

Still, we managed to circumvent a large swath of land bordered by woodlots and canals that revealed some interesting sights.

red fruits, oasi di ca' mello, oasis of ca' mello, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

These colourful fruits added a punch of colour along the way.

Even though we could not gain access, this bird hide conveyed a sense of charm where it huddled on the opposing bank of one waterway.

a marsh frog, oasi di ca' mello, oasis of ca' mello, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

A Marsh Frog hopped across the trail, an indication that amphibians are returning to the wetlands.

jean taking a photo, oasi di ca' mello, oasis of ca' mello, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

One path followed the perimeter of adjacent farmland, and the sunny exposure next to the forested hedgerow supported an abundance of wildflowers.

a small heath butterfly, oasi di ca' mello, oasis of ca' mello, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

Blossoms were fragrant in September’s late-afternoon sunshine attracting an assortment of butterflies.  This is a Small Heath Butterfly, a species that only flies when it is sunny.  Feeding on nectar, it assumed its customary at-rest position with wings folded.

red deer, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

Leaving Oasis of Ca’ Mello behind, Bob and I drove towards the Adriatic Sea.  What a surprise to spot a small herd of Red Deer on an adjacent embankment.  The Red Deer in the Po River Delta are considered genetically different from other European populations.

a fishing lagoon, fishing valley, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

It was late afternoon by the time we edged close to one fishing lagoon or valley by the Sea.  Backlit by the sun’s intense rays, it was impossible to discern the colours of boats bobbing on the calm water.  It was such a serene sight.

control gates of a canal, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

The brackish water of a fishing lagoon is regulated by sluice gates that control the inflow of salt and fresh water.

lavorieri, fishing lagoon, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

Reeds, canes and nets are placed at the mouths of the canals that link the marshes to the open Adriatic Sea.  The resulting fishing basins are consistent with ancient eel-catching techniques.  They are called lavorieri.

fishing house and boats, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

In the fishing lagoons, building is restricted to those structures solely relating to fishing.  Eel catching has been a long-standing practice in the marshes, and the Lavorieri system is the preferred means to catch them.

fishing houses and boats, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

Bob and I were enamoured with this quaint fishing “village” built over the water.  Structures supported by wooden piers occupy the bank all along the western and southern fringe of the fishing lagoon.

fishing houses on a lagoon, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

Typical buildings that characterize a fishing lagoon are buildings to shelter tools, roofed mooring spots for boats and a dwelling place for the owner and guardians.  We simply called them fishing houses.

a fishing lagoon at dusk, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

Having spent the whole day touring around Parco Regionale Veneto Del Delta del Po, Bob and I were ready for a relaxing evening.  We made tracks for a restaurant near our lodgings then spent time planning our next day’s adventure.

oasis of ca' mello, parco regionale veneto del delta del po, po river delta, italy

We had plans to explore the second regional park set aside to protect the Po River Delta, Emilia-Romagna in the south.  It was declared a World Heritage Site in 1999, so we were anticipating another interesting day.

You May Also Enjoy:

The Wondrous Il Duomo di Firenze in Florence, Italy

San Gimignano, italy DSC_0732

San Gimignano the town “with a thousand towers” in Italy

jean assists in cutting grapes from the vine at il colombaio di cencio vineyard, gaiole in chianti, itay

Our grape escape, helping with the grape harvest in Tuscany

palatine hill, roman forum, rome, italy

Reflections on our Travels to Rome

The miracle of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and we give a hand!

Frame To Frame – Bob and Jean

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: