If you’re a nature lover, you’ll surely enjoy traveling off the beaten track to reach quiet undisturbed spots where you can watch animals in their natural habitat.
If so, you’ll love Emilia-Romagna’s plentiful nature reserves, protected areas and forests with an abundance of wildlife.
One is the Po Delta Park, an area rich in biodiversity, perfect for a day immersed in nature!
Your first stop inside the Po Delta Park is the Riserva Naturale Gran Bosco della Mesola [Mesola Forest Nature Reserve], one of the last and best-preserved remnants of the area’s wooded plains, just a trace of the ancient forests that covered the Adriatic Coast until a few centuries ago.
During the Este Dynasty, the reserve was part of a vibrant forest teeming with wildlife stretching from the sea to the edge of Mesola Castle.
As the forest is so unique, tourists cannot visit all areas. However, there are official footpaths and cycle paths you can follow, promising glimpses of Mesola deer, also known as Dune deer.
As well as being a great place for you to spot these indigenous species, Mesola Forest is a proper 1,058-hectare monument to natural history with myriad plant species such as holly oak, manna ash, juniper, phillyrea, English oak, ash, elm, poplar and white hornbeam.
Additionally, there’s a 500-metre path for the blind equipped with handrails and Braille plaques that describe the various plant and animal species.
After an Emilia-Romagna style lunch break (worth noting is Pasticcio Ferrarese, a short-crust pie filled with savoury macaroni), the second half of your nature itinerary in the Po Delta is focused on birdwatching.
The Po Delta is the most important ornithological area in Italy and one of the most significant in Europe, with over 310 recognised species thus far. The count is constantly updated as new species are sighted.
The area’s rich biodiversity is due to its vast environmental complexity. Here the waters of the Adriatic Sea meet those of the Po River and the torrents from the Apennines, resulting in an ideal habitat, abundant in shelter, food and nesting grounds.
To help you spot the rarest and most beautiful protected species, there are strategically placed camouflaged observation towers and viewing areas throughout the park.
Some of the most interesting birds you can see are flamingos, purple herons, squacco herons, pygmy cormorants, black-winged stilts, storks and many rail birds, birds of prey, sandpipers and passerines.
So, set out to explore this enchanting corner of the Adriatic Coast, keeping in mind that this itinerary is for visitors who not only love nature but respect it.