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Il fiume Po - CrespinoThe River Po is 652 km long; it is the longest river in Italy and crosses the whole of the Paduan Plain up to the Adriatic Sea, where it becomes a delta mouth between Porto Levante to the North, in the Province of Rovigo and the Sacca di Goro to the South in the province of Ferrara. It generates one of the most extensive European and Mediterranean wetlands. Its delta covers 380 square kilometres and branches into five mouths: Po di Maistra, Po della Pila, Po di Tolle, Po della Gnocca, Po di Goro.
The changes in the course of the river due to floods, low waters, breaches and inundations have greatly modified the face of the land from ancient times up to today; in ancient times the Po flowed further south than its present course, near Ravenna and Comacchio.
In the twelfth-century a series of breaches occurred. Il Fiume Po - Porto ViroThe most devastating was that of Ficarolo in 1152 when the river channeled towards North in a single bed. Other events and inundations followed but the most important in modern times is the great inundation of 1951. During this inundation the river Po submerged villages, houses, people and lands, leaving desolation and poverty everywhere. Today one may still encounter some of the ruins abandoned to water during the flood which is firm in the memories of the older generation.
The decisive event for the flow of the "Grande Fiume" ("Great River") was the Taglio (cutting) of Porto Viro in 1600-1604: in four years, the Venetians excavated an artificial canal which now is the current riverbed. The old bed became a seaworthy canal (Canal Bianco Po di Levante) and the modern Delta formation began. During the first years of the twentieth century the draining pump of C6agrave; Vendramin was built which boosted great reclamation works thanks to which extensive areas of marshes were transformed into fertile countryside.
The current Delta is below sea level but a complex system of drainage pumps, managed by the Consortium of Reclamation of the Po Adige Delta, raise one billion of cubic metres of water every year and direct it into drainage ditches. In the last 350 years, the growth rate of the Veneto Delta amounts to seven kilometers every century.
Here only the most striking events have been mentioned of a history covering thousands of years. What one hopes to convey is the sense, the spirit that characterizes this land dominated by the river Po: the fact that here the river is a strong presence that arouses amazement and admiration that animates the territory and makes it a special, unique place. To fully understand this place one must travel along the banks - the huge and impressive riverbanks built to contain the waters- wind through the canals and cane fields, in the broad and beautiful wetlands, to the Museums that retrace its history. The experience that one may have here is not only that of the "tourist" but is also aesthetic and cultural; a 360 degree experience which is well worth living and remembering.