Mincio Valleys is an EDEN destination: the innermost and largest wetland in Italy is one of Italy's 30 tourist places of excellence. The "Valli del Mincio" nature reserve and the villages near Rivalta, Grazie and Soave have been in fact acknowledged as "Tourist Destinations of Excellence" within the community project "Eden 2009 - Tourism and protected areas": they have been officially recognized as EDEN, meaning "European Destinations of Excellence", and classified third as "runner up" in 2009.
With the famous nineteenth-century "Grand Tour" - which starting from the 17th century led many young people of the European aristocracy to improve their own cultural knowledge through journeys which started and ended in the same town - also this itinerary aims to lead visitors to improve their knowledges.
Through this fascinating trail many historic-cultural aspects will be studied, as well as the nature-landscape ones of the territories belonging to the Mincio Valleys. Having as departure and arrival point any entrance situated along the trail, the route winds following the Valleys' outer perimeter, leading visitors up to its most hidden core, using both bikes and boats.
Leaving from the built-up area of Soave (On the left side of the valleys, in the municipality of Porto Mantovano) and following the cycle way towards Maglio, one reaches the small built-up area of Sacca di Goito, after which one arrives to the village of Rivalta sul Mincio through not very busy roads. For centuries people have been living in contact with the river, "al Mens", and with what this generous nature has been always offering, benefitting from it while being in balance with it. The Ethnographic Museum of the River Professions proves this very tight cnturies-old relationship between man and water.
Once left Rivalta sul Mincio one goes on towards Grazie, a village which rose around the Beata Vergine Maria Sanctuary. It is very famous the presence in Grazie of the so-called "Madonnari", namely artists who draw their inspiration from the image of the Virgin and from the sacred iconography, which have here their museum.
From Grazie the tour goes on towards the city of Mantua both by boat and, in the next future, by bike, also thanks to the realization of the cycle path which is now underway. Following the water way one enters the heart of the reserve, where an almost unpolluted nature shows all its beauties and frailty.
Last stage of this fascinating journey is the arrival to the Belfiore mooring point, which signs the arrival to the Unesco Heritage Town: Mantua.
The route finishes by entering Soave's lands again, following a stretch of the ancient Via Carolingia up to the built-up area of Soave.
"Oasi di natura" is a recommended itinerary. Please contact the companies of Lago Superiore for opening hours: Associazione Per il Parco, Via Portici Broletto, 22 - 46100 Mantova, Tel. +39 0376 225724 - +39 333 5669382 - Email: email@example.com - www.perilparco.com; Consorzio I barcaioli del Mincio, Via San Pio X 11 - 46010 Grazie di Curtatone (MN) Tel. +39 0376 349292 - Fax +39 0376 1473002, mobile +39 349 6194396, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org - www.fiumemincio.it
Main nature and historic-cultural features
The stretches of trails on the cycle paths between Soave and Rivalta sul Mincio can be covered also on horseback.
The ring-route is 34 km long, including the stretch leading from Grazie to the city of Mantua by boat.
Approximate travel times
Road surface: Mainly cycle path with asphalted and dirt road, as well as short stretches on not very busy roads.
Suggested period: Mid-April - June.
Access: There are no accessibility problems because the whole trail follows cycle paths or not busy roads.
Safety: Between Sacca di Goito and Rivalta sul Mincio visitors have to cross a non-cycle path for about 6.5 km, it is recommended to pay attention.
Difficulty level: There are no objective difficulties along the itinerary, anyways it is recommended to be equipped with a water supply and to wear proper clothes because some stretches are not provided with rest areas.