Po river, North Italy, Emilia Romagna region, from the Italian Alps at the border with France, to the Adriatic sea from West to East

The longest Italian river

Known as the great father

Po river, with its 652 km, is the longest in Italy. Hence, it flows through four regions: Piedmont, Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, and Veneto. The river runs amid the banks from its source, the Alps that border France, to the Adriatic sea with its delta. However, It reaches the region of Emilia Romagna at the village of Castel San Giovanni, in the province of Piacenza. As a result, it is the border of the region, with short divagations, up to Luzzara (in the province of Reggio Emilia). It moves out again, and it returns back to Emilia Romagna in the town of Stellata (in the province of Ferrara). And henceforth it marks the border till the sea, with the branch of the Po di Goro. 

The river Po and its territory

The river Po is part of the morphology of Emilia Romagna. With its irascible character, it has forced the people who live around to distance themselves and close it between two embankments. For sure, everyone would love to admire the Po river from the terrace of its own house. With its famous sunsets that burn the waters of vermilion gleams. Or even to look it through the changing veils of the morning mist. Veils that hide and reveal its meanders surrounded by canebrakes and groves of willows. And also the islands that emerge and disappear with the low or high water. As well as the exuberant cultivation that are in the floodplains. Furthermore, the passage of boats and the flight of the water birds.

The hidden river

But from the Emilian houses, there is no way to see the Po river. In fact, a huge embankment hid it, which rises 10-15 meters above the countryside. Hence, anywhere the bank goes a meter higher than the level that the waters had reached during the disastrous flood of 1951. And of course, sailing on the Po, we do not see the flat countryside.

Communication artery

Today the Po is the central artery of all its valley. But only from a water point of view, not from that of human geography. As a result, It is not a way of communication of some importance as the Via Emilia. Hence for the Emilians, as well as for the Lombards and the Venetians, it is an extreme suburb, a boundary. In fact, the great communications, as the railways, the roads, and the highway arteries run north and south of the river. Once it was not like this when the countryside around was densely populated. And the Po was a source of activity for its people. It could be coming back if they give its role as an environment, landscape, and culture great resources.

The Po river as a trade waterway

The utilization of the Po river goes back to the history of the civilization. From the Etruscans to the Romans, as well as the Middle Ages till the first half of the nineteenth hundred. On its waters, they transported the goods from the Adriatic ports to the cities of the inland. Numerous smaller boats transported people and goods from one country to another, from one farmhouse to another. The river provided the fresh fish, as well as the driving force that turned the floating mills.

The handicraft

And also it gave work to many people. Boatmen and shipwrights, fishermen and millers, caulkers and manufacturers of nets. And even to the most desperate who, along the shores, gathered up the timber and everything else was left after the floods. Periodically, the river attacked with its flood the humankind on the banks. As a result, the flood came suddenly, with the sound of the bells.


The film 1900 (Twentieth Century) of Bernardo Bertolucci captures a crucial moment in the history of the Po valley. As a result, the beginning of the depopulation of the countryside. In fact, the film shows the introduction of the first machines in the fields, which will replace the arms of the peasants. On the bank, we see a procession of the wagons as a sad exodus. Hence they drove off the families from their land in the name of the progress.