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VenTo Tour

Paolo and friends ride a 700 km route along the Po River – a journey that goes from the Adriatic to the Alps, through four regions: Veneto; Emilia Romagna; Lombardia and Piemonte...

 

We began our first morning riding out from Venice which, as expected, was a joy. Lifting the bikes and their heavy loads across the dozens of little bridges, and negotiating the tangled little streets – the main Venetian characteristics – were obviously the most awkward but entertaining parts. And then, once we left Venice behind us, there was a completely different water landscape – the Po Delta – an endless game of canals, reflections and asphalt stripes that look like if they were painted for enthusiastic cycle-tourists.

The landscapes around us were all reflected in the water, creating magical mirrored images as the colours blended between the sky, the earth and water – it was immediately clear why this area of adjoining agricultural lands within the ancient and vast Po River Delta has been declared part of the Unesco World Heritage programme. In fact, it is easier to lose your way following the direction that inspires you the most rather than following a set route along the canals and road network.

Outside the delta area the River Po begins – a thread that joins up dozens of districts through various reserves, agricultural lands, picturesque tree lines, bridges, farmsteads and house boats. The path is mostly flat, so it is also perfect for cycle tourists that are not necessarily into long or difficult days in the saddle…

"Once we left Venice behind us, there was a completely different water landscape - the Po Delta - an endless game of canals, reflections and asphalt stripes that look like if they were painted for enthusiastic cycle-tourists..."

Even if Padania is one of the most industrialised areas of Europe, when you cycle along the river bank paths you really do not notice it. Cycling is extremely relaxing and it allows you to discover a different Italy close, but at the same time far, from big cities. So much so that the Politecnico di Milano has started a project called VenTo in order to improve on the already existing but fairly interrupted network of cycle paths, by creating a uniform cycle route and infrastructure along the Po Valley to match the great European cycle paths that are already ridden by thousands of cycle tourists each year…

The Italian writer Guareschi, who was born in this territory, wrote in the middle of the last century:

“God strikes me because I know about history less than horse does, but of one thing I’m sure: before the bicycle, the Padan valley did not exist, with the invention of the bicycle the Padan valley was also invented”

It feels good to cycle along the snaking Po river – indulging in the solemn tranquility of the water flow – a river which has always been a centre of commerce and communication, which nourishes and guides the towns and people’s lives that have lived on its plains for centuries...

 

 
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