Pavia, Piacenza, and Cremona: a cruise through history on the Po river

652 km long, a river bed of 71,000 square km, four regions in Pianura Padana: these are the coordinates of the Po river, the longest river in Italy. Along the Po there are Pavia, Piacenza, and Cremona, suggestive cities that offer the chance to see the river waters from a different perspective – on one of the many boats that sail along natural reserves and fascinating villages.

Let’s start from Pavia, at the confluence of the Ticino and Po rivers. The city is famous for its University, founded in 1361 by Galeazzo il Visconti, which today is crowded with young students, the medieval historic centre, Castello Visconteo, Musei Civici. Take a walk under the Ponte Coperto, once inhabited by laundresses and fishermen. River navigation begins in Linarolo, near Ponte della Becca, and you can choose among one of the excursions which, at 15 km/h, will take you along the sailing trait between Pavia, Piacenza, and Cremona. The most interesting excursion takes you to Isola Serafini, the largest isle on the Po river, and to Corte Sant’Andrea, a large rural complex mentioned in 996 by Sigerico, bishop of Canterbury, as a crossing point of the Po on Via Francigena.

The history of Piacenza is strictly linked to the river: it was founded by the Romans on the Po banks in 218 BC as an outpost in Celtic territory. Here, in 476 AD, the historical cycle of the Western Roman Empire came to an end, but in the year 1000 the city played an important role on Via Francigena. In the Renaissance it became part of the Farnese duchy. The splendid remains of this past can be discovered walking in the historic city centre, from Chiesa di San Savino, considered one of the most significant examples of Lombard Romanesque style, to the cathedral in Piazza Duomo, the central Piazza Cavalli, with Palazzo Gotico, and the equestrian statues of Ranuccio and Alessandro Farnese created in the 17th century by Francesco Mochi. Once you have visited the city on foot, hop on a boat to seize the opportunity to see beautiful and forgotten natural spots and discover the flora and fauna of the Po basin.
Such as Parco Fluviale di Isola Giarola, an artificial lake connected to the Po river through a canal, which has been preserved through environmental interventions, and Isola di Pinedo, a natural reserve with outstanding protected habitats in Europe.

You can also sail from Cremona, to discover bodri, or ponds rich with fish, such as Bodrio del Lazzaretto or Bodrio Cittadella. Many excursions also include a visit to sites linked to Giuseppe Verdi or to cinema: from Busseto, a city full of memories from the composer, to S.Agata, where the Maestro built his house, up to Roncole Verdi, with the places that gave birth to Guareschi, the famous writer of the adventures of Don Camillo and Peppone.


Read on: