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Occhiobello - Canaro - Polesella

Visualizza Occhiobello - Canaro - Polesella in una mappa di dimensioni maggiori


Starting location:  Occhiobello
Place of arrival:  Polesella
Municipalities crossed:  Occhiobello, Canaro, Polesella


Itinerario 5 Lungo PoOur itinerary proceeds in the direction of Occhiobello; the name of this town means “a good view for the eye” on the river Po, a panorama that many painters immortalized and highly appreciated by naturalists.
Also in this case the first encounter is that with the flood plain, today silent companion of the river but enlivened by the various activities linked to the river in the past. This placed inspired some pages of the world-famous book “The mill on the Po” by Riccardo Bacchelli, in which the local boat and mill builders are depicted. The mills, once scattered from Melara to the mouth of the river, exploited the locomotive power of the water and had a strategic economic function. Moreover they were the scenery of important episodes of history linked to Carlo Cavriani from Occhiobell, from the moment when the Po, after the Congress of Vienna, became the border between the Veneto region controlled by the Austrians and the Papal State, more permeable to patriotics ideas.
Love and fear: these two feelings are interlaced in Occhiobello: on November 14th 1951 the leaks of the great flood that inundated Polesine originated in the villages Bosco and Malcantone. A monument commemorates the tragedy which took place more than half a century ago, thus witnessing the will to act with determination for the hydraulic safety of the whole Polesine.
Let us leave the flood plain to reach the centre of the village dominated by the XVII century façade of the S.Lorenzo Church, by Vincenzo and Angelo Santini. The artistic confessionals and the choir inside have been ascribed to Brustolon, whereas the frescos and the bell-Tower were severely damaged the Second World War bombing. On the way towards Eridania we encounter Villa Savonarola, which in the past was the country residence of the famous family. Girolamo Savonarola, the upright friar who was sent to the stake after a political quarrel in Florence, probably lived here during his youth. Today the villa has become a beautiful hotel. Next to the villa there is the S.Gaetano Oratory in late baroque style; inside there is a tower englobed in a cottage.
At the two sides of the road that connects Occhiobello to the village of S.Maria Maddalena, dozens of important businesses were set up and offer very different products and services. Yhis was the result of the proximity to Ferrara which is just beyond the bridge an the Po. S.M.Maddalena church is quite modern, it was built in 1952 by architect G.B.Scarpari from Adria.
The itinerary then fellows the flow of the river; in this part the banks were reinforced in the past fifty years in order to prevent floods. The Po often flows along woodlands, whereas on the left in the countryside, we can spot the linear profile of the XVI century Casa Arioste.
For a few kilometres along the Polesine bank the countryside is the typical landscape we are getting used to, with some scattered houses, until we reach the Paviole hamlet in the Canaro village, where we find the harmonious and elegant Villa Martelli Piccioli. It is a XVIII century building with a central body embellished with triple lancet windows. Making a little deflection we can reach the centre of Canaro pointing at the Tower Bell near S.Sofia Parish Church built at the end of the XVII century. The church has a curved tympanum and is particularly famous for the sculpture “The last supper” on an altar-paliotto in Carrara marble. The closest path to reach the bankside road is to cut through the village of Garofolo, famous because the painter Benvenuto Tisi known as “Il Garofalo” was born here. He was one of the most appreciated artists of the Ferrara school and was called also indicated as the Ferrara Raffaello.
Proceeding along the bank we are attracted by some buildings in the countryside below. One of them, Villa Breda, is of great pleasure. Recently restored, it is also known as “Il Palazzo”. Probably it used to be a Benedictine court, the interior was made with the most modern equipment to record and listen to the music. Now it hosts the famous “Umbi Club” used by the famous pop star Zucchero for rehearsals and recordings and also for entertaining moments along the Po.
The next stop is Polesella, a village that was particularly thriving at the end of the XV century after the passage from the estensi to the Serenissima domination after the Salt war (1482-84). Venice made it also an important river port, as it was strategic due to the presence of the river Fossa, that started from the Po and reached the Canalbianco allowing people to get to inland places sailing up rivers, one of these place is Fratta, situated on the river Scortico.
The anti-flood measures here are vital for the life of these villages; here the river undergoes a dangerous loop: the so-called “Sette Moli” that is seven dykes to slack off the waters. The “Sostegno della Fossa” is another important containment created at the beginning of the XVI century by the Ferrara architect Biagio Rossetti to control the flow of the waters of the system Po-Fossa. Unfortunately all these efforts belong to the past as in the 1950s the river Fossa was silted up to create a large road and green spaces.
The Venetians presence in Polesella is still very visible in the beautiful villas that very built from the XVI century onwards by the Serenissima's noble families: first of all Villa Morosini, on the Po, doge Francesco Morosini's marvellous scenographic country residence ascribed to the architect Scamozzi built at the end of the XVI century near Borgo S.Maura, near the flood plain; then Villa Rosetta-Chiereghin built along the Fossa at the end of the XVII century: two wide double porticos are at each side of the central body, the chapel is ascribed to architect Longhena; on the opposite side we encounter the XVIII century Villa Armellini, also known as “Sette teste” due to the seven masks placed in the arches of the portals; just outside the village there stands Villa Selmi-Serafini, XVIII century building, partially renovated at the beginning of the XIX century, together with the park ascribed to Japelli, now converted into a restaurant. Along the track of the Fossa there is also the Parish Church inaugurated in 1735. the recent renovation works sponsored by the Municipal Authorities allowed to restore the original architectural physiognomy of the ancient apse in the church of the Augustians, the rest was destroyed by a hurricane together with the XVI century Palazzo Grimani. The building now is open to the public as Civil Hall.

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