Parco del Mincio
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Home » VisitMincio » Itineraries

"Grand tour" of the valleys

By bike or by boat in the EDEN

On foot By bike Boat         Great Interest: Panorama Great Interest: Religion Great Interest: Hystory 

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. 

Lotus flower
Lotus flower
(photo by: Archivio Parco Mincio)
 

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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: perilparco@yahoo.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: barcaioli@fiumemincio.it - www.fiumemincio.it


Main nature and historic-cultural features

  • Stable meadows system: a stable meadow is a meadow which has not been subjected to any plowing or tillage work, which has not been cultivated but left with its spontaneous vegetation for a long time ranging from a minimum of 12 months to even a hundred years: it is maintained only through mowing and fertilization works. The irrigation is carried out with the flood system, which is proved by the presence of handmade tools which were used to this end.
  • Plain agricultural environments
  • River Mincio: it develops from the Garda Lake by the built-up area of Peschiera del Garda (VR), after a few kilometers it reaches the Mantua's territory in Ponti sul Mincio and then, after about 73 km, it flows into the Po river in Sacchetta di Sustinente. It crosses the mild reliefs of Garda's morainic hills covered with many fortified villages, and develops along the Po valley until it ends its course into the great river.
  • Centuries-old oak in Sacca di Goito: it is an about 30-meters-high Englich oak, with a circumference of more than 5 meters. No one exactly knows how far back in the past it dates back, but it is possible that it belonged to the hunting reserves of the Gonzagas, which were very rich forests. In order to reach the area it is necessary to cross a private property, therefore one needs the authorization of the owners.
  • Ethnographic Museum of Rivalta sul Mincio: Loghino Ariello - a former rural building overlooking a meander of the river, in the heart of the Mincio Valleys Nature Reserve - is the Mincio Park's Visitor Center, and it houses the Museum of the River Professions.
  • Rivalta's slipway: to understand how human life changed around the river Mincio and what kind of relationship there was between man and nature, discovering the profession of the "calafato" (a qualified nautical worker) and visiting its slipway.
  • Beata Vergine Maria delle Grazie Sanctuary and Museum of the Madonnari: the sanctuary was built in 1399, when Francesco Gonzaga made them erect a majestic cathedral as an ex-voto to the Madonna delle Grazie to thank her for the suspension of the Plague. The museum, on the other hand, ws established with the aim to make the Madonnari's heritage permanently visible.
  • Mount Perego: it is a small river bump situated between Rivalta sul Mincio and Grazie, and it represents a tiny example of black alder forest, which have by now disappeared in our Po Valley and planted in the Mincio Park.
  • Typical valley environments: Presence of hydrophilic grasslands and groves of reeds, endangered habitats in the valleys due to the natural silting up processes. Presence of rare bird species connected with the water-reeds transition environment or with the open water expanses.
  • Fondo Ostie: situated on the right side of the valleys, in the municipality of Curtatone, they are rural buildings, fields, valley areas overlooking the huge expanse of reeds of the wetland in Mincio Valleys.
  • Lago Superiore and city of Manuta
  • Some stretches correspond to the Via Carolingia: it is a very short part of the trail which Charlemagne crossed in the autumn of the 19th century to reach Rome, where Pope Leo III crowned him emperor.

How

  • Soave-Rivalta s/Mincio: by bike
  • Rivalta s/Mincio: on foot
  • Rivalta s/Mincio-Grazie: by bike
  • Grazie: on foot
  • Grazie-Mantova Belfiore: by boat
  • Mantova Belfiore-Soave: by bike.

The stretches of trails on the cycle paths between Soave and Rivalta sul Mincio can be covered also on horseback.

Approximate length
The ring-route is 34 km long, including the stretch leading from Grazie to the city of Mantua by boat.

  • Soave-Rivalta s/Mincio: 14 Km
  • Rivalta s/Mincio-Grazie: 4 Km
  • Grazie-Mantova Belfiore (by boat): 4,5 Km
  • Mantova Belfiore-Soave: 11,5 Km.

Approximate travel times

  • Soave-Rivalta s/Mincio: one and a half hours;
  • Rivalta s/Mincio-Grazie: half an hour;
  • Grazie-Mantova Belfiore: one hour;
  • Mantova Belfiore-Soave: one hour.

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.

Each stretch can be covered one at a time and, unlike what it is proposed in this itinerary, it is possible to choose from different departure points, different from the built-up area of Soave but better meeting the visitors' expactations.
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