The Destra Po, the longest cycleway in Italy, part of EuroVelo 8, is made up of 125 km that in the Province of Ferrara unite Stellata di Bondeno with Gorino Ferrarese, at the mouth of the great river. Along the Destra Po, flowing water will accompany you along plains that abound with colours and aromas, to reach The Mulino del Po (Mill on the Po) in Ro.

 

Duration: Half a day including stops
Length: 46 km
Road type: asphalt
Number of stops: 4
Departure/end point: Piazza Trento Trieste
 
  1. PALAZZO SAN CRISPINO
Piazza Trento Trieste
With Medieval origins, this building is also called the “Oratory of Shoemakers”. Only the most attentive visitors will have noticed that, on the Via Mazzini side, the building has the outline of a shoe sole and in fact next to the first capital, carved into the marble, is the imprint of a shoe, in memory of the original use of the building. The legend goes that in 808 Charlemagne, passing through Ferrara, received a pair of shoes so comfortable that he decided to attribute this location to shoemaking.

 
  • With the building behind you, cross Piazza Trento Trieste and turn onto Corso Martiri della Libertà. At the intersection with Corso della Giovecca, turn left and then take a quick right down Via Ercole I d’Este, following it to the end. At Porta degli Angeli turn left and go under the bridge to enter the Parco Urbano. Continue along the hedge and, at the end of the trail, turn left onto Via Gramicia. After a few meters, on the right will be a bicycle track (FE 203). Take it and, at the end, follow the signage for Destra Po. Once in Francolino, catch your breath in Piazza Fetonte before climbing up the river embankment, a few dozen meters away.
 
  1. FRANCOLINO
An ancient city that rose on a vast mash, Francolino once was quite important thanks to its strategic position near the Po: it was considered the port of Ferrara, connecting the city to the land beyond the river. You can visit Piazza Fetonte.
 
  • Continue on and go up top of the embankment of the Po.

THE PO RIVER
This is a land that has always been connected to the passing of the water. Over the course of history, it has been an important commercial resource, both a separating element and a setting for conflict with nearby Venice. Ferrara was profoundly shaped by the numerous river floods.
Solemn and captivating, the Po is an essential stop for those visiting the Province of Ferrara, just like a true monument. In 1999, UNESCO extended the recognition of the historical centre to the Po River Delta and to the delizie (the countryside court residences), considering it a perfectly-preserved cultural landscape. In 2015, it joined the elite of parks protected by the Man and the Biosphere project (MaB – UNESCO).
Silence envelops just about everything here, interrupted in the summer by the song of cicadas and by the breeze that delicately rustles the long rows of poplars. Grey herons, swallows and small hawks may keep you company as you cycle, without ever being bothersome.

 
  • Make a small detour to admire the Este residence in Fossadalbero (which can be seen from the outside only). Head down from the embankment and follow the signage for the Delizia.
 
  1. DELIZIA DI FOSSADALBERO
Private property, visible from the outside
This delizia, a courtly country residence, was the place where the unlucky love affair between Ugo and Parisina took place (the son and the second wife of Marquis Nicolò III d’Este). The story goes that in 1424, with a plague outbreak in Ferrara, Nicolò ordered his son Ugo to accompany his stepmother Parisina far from the city to their villa in Fossadalbero. A secret love affair arose between the two, discovered after a very short time and punished first with a prison sentence in Castello Estense, and then with the decapitation of both of them.

 
  • Head back to the embankment and continue along the Destra Po FE20 bicycle route. Proceed until the floodplains of Ro for a relaxing stop. To return to the city, take the same route and follow the signage for Ferrara FE20.
 
  1. RO
Along the route on the river’s embankment, the local residents have never abandoned their fields, planted with grains and fruit trees. Ro, in particular, excels in the cultivation of wheat, corn and pears. The countryside around Ro is known for the book The Mill on the Po by Riccardo Bacchelli, which tells the tale of the Scacerni family, millers living on the banks of the river.

THE “MULINO SAN MICHELE” OASIS – THE MILL ON THE PO
The name of this natural oasis comes from the San Michele mill described in Bacchelli’s tale. The banks of the river were once home to the 173 mills that were found throughout the province of Ferrara. Industrial development and state regulations to protect the river banks led to their gradual disappearance in the 1920s. This historical reconstruction is captivating and nostalgic: by calling and booking a tour in advance, it is possible to visit the inside of the mill to see how it operates. A wooden slat wheel is activated by the river, which is connected to a single, perfectly functioning granite millstone. This mechanism grinds  the wheat grown nearby; the resulting flour, which also includes the bran, is certified with the “QC” symbol (Quality Control) by the Region of Emilia Romagna.
The mill on the Po is a small floating museum that bears witness to and presents the history of one of Ferrara’s PGI products: bread.


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