First Projects for the Porto Viro Cut-Off

The first project for a cut-off involving the river Po can be found in a 1556 report by the engineers Cristoforo Sabbadino and Giovanni Carrara from Venice. In 1558, the famous cartographer Giacomo Gastaldi suggested to Venice to cut the river Po in Porto Viro. A much more complex project was presented to the Venetian Senate in 1562 by Marino Silvestri, a rich land owner from Loreo: the project considered excavating a new riverbed. On 17th November 1569, also the humanist Luigi Groto from Adria asked the Senate to perform the cut-off.

Ariano Polesine
Ariano nel Polesine in GLISENTI ANTONIO, Settore del Delta tra il Po di Goro e l'Adige, 1587. Venice, State Archive

Comprensorio Valle Malipier
Valle Malipiera territory between Fornase branch and Taglio Nuovo, 16th-17th century. Venice, State Archive

Laguna Venezia
Venice Lagoon. Rovigo, Accademia dei Concordi (the north on the right)
Progetto taglio
Project of the cut-off, in MARINO SILVESTRI, Discorso sopra la regolazione del Po, Venice 1563. Rovigo, Accademia dei Concordi
 Cesare d.Este
Cesare d'Este, engraving. Ferrara, Biblioteca Comunale Ariostea

The Defence of the Lagoon

At the end of the 16th century, the hydrography of the Delta changed: Po di Tramontana branch became the main branch and its current led the river sediments in the Lagoon, threatening to silt it up. Venice blamed the Duke of Este for this, since he detached Abate branch from the river Po. If this situation had lasted, the Delta could develop in a north-east direction, closing in the Lagoon Chioggia mouth and maybe also Malamocco mouth.

M. BONDESAN, Reconstruction of the possible silting up of the Lagoon mouth if the cut-off had not been performed

Marino Grimani
Marino Grimani from CUSTOS DOMINICUS, Atrium heroicum Caesarum, regum ... imaginibus... illustr[atum], Augsburg 1600

The Protagonists and the Negotiations

The Duke of Ferrara Alfonso II died in 1597 with no direct heirs and the following year the territory of Ferrara was confiscated by the Papal State. Venice started negotiations with the Papacy to perform the cut-off. From March 1599 to June 1600, visits to the Delta were organized, as well as meetings between the Venetians and papal representatives in order to decide about the cut-off. On 10th May 1600, Cardinal Blandrata, emissary of the Pope, met the Venetian representative Alvise Zorzi in Papozze and on 7th June they agreed that the Venetians could not close Po delle Fornaci, that the cut-off banks had to be strong, and that the works could not go beyond the fixed limits. "Papozze Convention" was ratified in Rome by Pope Clement VIII and in Venice by Doge Marino Grimani.

Cardinale Blandrata
Cardinal Blandrata, engraving, Ferrara. Biblioteca Comunale Ariostea

Clemente VIII
Clement VIII, engraving. Ferrara, Biblioteca Comunale Ariostea
Viaggio Clemente VIII
Journey of Pope Clement VIII. Ferrara, Biblioteca Comunale Ariostea

Ritratto Luigi Groto
Portrait of Luigi Groto called the Blind Man of Adria, first half of the 18th century, oil on canvas, unknown Venetian painter (copy from Jacopo Tintoretto). Adria, Municipal Library
Disegno Polesine
CRISTOFORO SORTE, Drawing representing Polesine with its surrounding meadows, drawing, 16th century. Rovigo, Accademia dei Concordi

Leader+ Community Initiative Measure 2.1 Action 2.1a) "Interterritorial Cooperation"
Project: "Historical-Cultural Heritage Enhancement and Tourist Promotion of the Po Delta Territory"
Action A: Po Delta "Heritage Promotion"