The economic, social and civil history of the low Po Valley is strictly connected with water: the big Po, the Apennine rivers and streams, the resurgences and the canals. Settlements, agricultural landscape, communication systems, toponymy, fiscal and administrative organization of this area are influenced by rivers and water, streaming or still.
This element made the use and control of the land difficult, today it’s forced into a big net of canals and drainages, started by Benedictines in the medieval age, carried on by the Estensi family in the Renaissance and developed until mid 20th century, contributing to create one of the best agricultural areas of Italy. During the centuries, a constellation of little Principalities hold out until 18th century against the Seigniories attempt to destroy the small states started in 14th century.
The dominions of Guastalla, Mirandola, Novellara and Rolo landlords, the Principalities of Correggio, Carpi gradually merged into the major Principalities. It’s the historical communication system via land and water, between Reggio and the Via Emilia, the low valley and Po river towards Lombardia and Adriatic sea. Today it’s a generous land of entrepreneural villages, courts, farm houses and small communities, settled along the centuries and now quickly changing.
A handful of km separates ten villages in the fertile country between Crostolo and Secchia rivers. These villages were positioned along the canals to control the river transportation and today they testify a glorious past. The itinerary explores artistic towns like Correggio, with its museums and noble palaces, the medieval and Renaissance forts of San Martino in Rio, Novellara and Reggiolo, the landlords’ villas and Gonzaga family casinos, rural achitectures and naturalistic attractions.
The Po river, the drainages and the land division distinguish this part of the valley spread between Crostolo and Enza rivers and via Emilia. Travelling along ancient roman and medieval roads, one pass through the drained valleys, like the Bonifica Bentivoglio, a masterpiece. Following the Po river main bank, one can touch a major settlements of this region, with Luzzara, Guastalla, Gualtieri, Boretto, Brescello. The big river, full of memories of literature and cinema, offers the suggestion of a naturalistic area as well.