A river cruise in Italy is a popular choice amongst holidaymakers due to the potential for immersion in the diverse and breathtaking vistas the country has to offer. Travel through lush countryside and docking at bustling port towns offers the opportunity to experience Italy in a truly unforgettable way. When planning your river cruise in Italy, you’ll find it hard to select a shortlist of delightful destinations to visit, but be sure to put the Po Delta nature reserve at the top of your agenda. A standard on many itineraries in this region, you won’t regret a stop at this double-UNESCO recognised park. |
What is the Po Delta Nature Reserve?
Italy’s largest wetlands, widely regarded as some of the most important in Europe, are a patchwork of natural beauty and biodiversity that shouldn’t be missed. Spanning 64,000 hectares and playing host to over 400 animal and 1,000 plant species, the nature reserve springs from the end of the Great River and stretches the length of two Italian regions. The park can be accessed from Goro or Gorino, quaint fishing villages which provide a perfect starting point to explore the reserve from the water. A river cruise in Italy will allow you to access some breathtaking sections of the reserve and give you an overview of its beauty and complexity, but a further visit may be required to appreciate the vast region in detail.
Flora and Fauna
The Po Delta Park offers an unparalleled range of wildlife to be discovered. Crowds of bright pink flamingos inhabit the Salt Pans of Cervia, and the ancient San Vitale and Classe pine forests are always a favourite with visitors. Birdwatchers delight in the range and extent of species that nest in the area, including avocets, herons, owls, and buzzards. The international Birdwatching Fair brings in flocks of tourists to appreciate the more than 300 species to be spotted here, framed by towering ash and willow trees in the submerged forests.
A popular stop on a river cruise in Italy when exploring the Po Delta Park is the Villa Ca’Zen, a seventeenth-century building with an interesting history that intertwines with Britain’s great poet and prolific romancer, Lord Byron. The area was favoured by many wealthy Venetian dynasties due to its potential for fishing and harvesting, and the Ca’Zen estate was built by the Zen family in the early 1700s. The villa is surrounded by a chapel, stables and portico, built in the Venetian style, and is certainly worth a visit. Here you can enjoy the breathtaking views and learn the torrid history of Byron’s doomed love affair with his Italian lover, Contessa Teresa Gamba.
The Po Delta nature reserve is a unique destination that presents new and thrilling experiences at each turn, and a river cruise in Italy is the perfect introduction to its many delights. Booking with a well established company will ensure you don’t miss any of the key features, and will allow you to relax and absorb the plentiful enchantments of the region.
Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, the UK's most respected provider of all-inclusive, luxury itineraries for a river cruise in Italy, as well as barge holidays in other great destinations. Part of a team of experienced barging aficionados, Paul is first in line to endorse the perks of a slow-paced barge cruise to anyone looking for a unique holiday experience.
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