In its central stretch the river Mincio widens, drawing large and winding meanders between the cultivated lands and the meadows of the plain near Mantua. Along the riverbanks several trees follow one another: white willows, poplars, elms and English oaks, which in the junction points between land and water make place for the giant cane and the the common rushes.
This stretch of the river has the highest concentration of extraordinarily valuable habitats: The Mincio Bend and Valleys Nature Reserve
and the Vallazza Nature Reserve
represent one of the widest and most significant wetlands in northern Italy
, having the most interesting flower, vegetation and wildlife features in the whole territory which covers the area around Mantua forming three lakes
acknowledged as "special protection areas" due to the presence of many protected bird species.
It is an ecological corridor characterized by many birds of community interest, especially colonial herons, diurnal birds of prey, grebes and ducks, which chose a habitat full of plant and flower species of conservation interest, such as Eel grass, the whorled water milfoil, the white water lilies, the yellow water lilies, the water caltrops, the hibiscus, the yellow water flag, the carex grasslands, the swamp gentian and large floating islands of lotus flowers.
Two green areas of historical and environmental importance are situated in this part of the plain: the Bertone Park
, a forest-garden with a thousand trees hosting the White Stork Reintroduction Center
, and the Bosco Fontana Oriented Nature Reserve
, representing one of the last original plain forests of the Po valley left in Italy.