In Rivalta sul Mincio
the area called Fondo Mincio, overlooking a bend of the river, is equipped for the eco-tourist reception. Here there are the Park's Visitor Center and the Ethnographical Museum of the River Professions
, a rest stop, a hostel, the canoe rental service, the opportunity to take part in hikes by ecological boats among the groves of reeds.
Even the suburb of Grazie di Curtatone
is a boarding area for the river hikes. The two villages, both situated on the right shore, are linked one with the other through a cycle-pedestrian lane which crosses Mount Perego
, one of the last black alders forests in the Po valley.
Downstream, the shores of the three lakes of Mantua
have been almost completely restored and organized as a peri-urban park, with a cycle-pedestrian system connecting the heart of Mantua with several destinations: first of all the Mantua-Peschiera cycle lane, which passes near Bosco Fontana and Bertone Park
, with the Center for the reintroduction of the white stork nearby.
The route of the peri-urban park
of Mantua offers many opportunities of amusement, eco-tourism and nature observation: jogging, pick nicks, river hikes by motorboat or eco-friendly boats, rest stops, recreational-didactic equipments.
Mincio Valleys nature reserve and the coastal villages of Rivalta, Grazie and Soave have been honored with the designation of "tourist destination of excellence" within the community project "Eden 2009 - Tourism and Portected Areas
", and they ranked third in a ranking with five areas chosen from the 55 ones which took part in the competition on a national level. EDEN is the acronym for "European Destinations of Excellence
(Special Protection Area) "Valli del Mincio" develops for about 15 km along the river Mincio, for a total surface of 1,947.72 hectares
. It completely includes the Mincio Valleys Regional Nature Reserve, and almost completely the SCI (Site of Community Importance) "Mincio Bend and valleys". It extends downstream and includes the three lakes (Lago Superiore, Lago di Mezzo and the Lago Inferiore) reaching the SCI and SPA (Site of Community Importance and Special Protection Area) "La Vallazza". The SCI
has a surface of about 1,058 hectares
, with a north-south linear development of about 6.7 Km.
Both sites represent one of the widest and most significant wetlands in northern Italy.
Near the coastal village of Rivalta the river Mincio extends until it forms a large valley, intersecting canals, water stretches and small clear basins. This is the river stretch having the most interesting flower, plant and wildlife features
. There are 60 water expanses of conservation interest. In the canals where water flows faster there are specialized water species
such as the eel grass, the whorled water milfoil, the hairlike pondweed, the pond water starwort. On the water surface it is possible to observe expanses
of white water lilies, the yellow water lilies and the water caltrop. Near the shores it is possible to find groves of reeds
, the swamp rose mallow, the yellow water flags, the great willowherb, the marshmallow, the water speedwell, the forget-me-not. On the left shore the grove of reeds is replaced by wide grasslands mainly consisting of narrow sedges. Among the small canals there are many hydrophilic species
, such as the marsh gentian, the fen ragwort, the cottonsedge, the early marsh orchid, the summer lady's tresses, the mouse garlic, the Allium suaveolens.
In those places where soil is subjected to less frequent periodic floods, some species of wet meadows appear, and mainly consist of moor grass, common tormentil, dyer's broom, purple loosestrife, some common rushes. The grey willow
shapes thick shrubs within the groves of reeds. By La Piuda it is possible to observe the water soldier
, similar to a small agave or aloe, namely a species considered as endangered in Italy. Among the alien species there is the lotus flower
, a species coming from India, which was brought in the lakes of Mantua since 1921: now it forms large floating islands in the Lago di Mezzo, along Mincio's upper stretch.
The ecological corridor of the Mincio river is a migratory route of great importance for many bird species. In the site there are 55 species of community interest
, 13 of which nest in this area: among non-migratory, migratory and wintering bird species about 149 species are numbered. It is worth mentioning the presence of colonial herons
(purple herons, great egret, grey heron, black-crowned night heron, squacco heron, little egret, cattle egret), diurnal birds of prey
(western marsh harrier, montagu's harrier, merlin, peregrine falcon), the grebes
and the ducks
(little grebe, great crested grebe, mallard, mute swan). In the sites there are two amphibian
species and one reptile
species of community interest: the Italian agile frog, the northern crested newt and the European pond turtle. Among the 290 species of invertebrate
species registered, it is worth mentioning the white-clawed crayfish, the hermit beetle and the large copper. For the first time in 2009, in the Mincio valleys it was found the longhorn beetle of the marsh spurge, an extremely localized and endangered species. The Airone Rosso island
, situated opposite the water expanses of the former Zanetti quarries, is very important for the settlement of the purple heron, a migratory species, nesting since 1981, together with the black-crowned night heron, the little egret, the squacco heron, the cattle egret and the grey heron. The nests are built on islands of grey willows, emerging out of the reeds or on the reeds.