After World War II

After World War II, the Delta was still dominated by large landed estates and characterized by serious social tensions; the State tried to face this situation with a partial Agrarian Reform. The local methane resource was ephemeral, since it was soon made vain by subsidence. Although the overflow of the river Po in 1951 spared the Delta, it sharpened the local economic and social unbalance. The reconstruction led to new initiatives, at first with public capitals, then with private capitals. In the 60s, the new Via Romea was created. In the following years, riding the wave of the national "economic miracle", new seaside resorts, ways of communication, and activities - craftwork among the others - as well as small industrial districts developed. In Ravenna big industries settled and in the Delta the thermoelectric plant of Porto Tolle was built. For approximately 20 years, the centuries-old fishing activity in the sea and in the valleys has been combined with molluscs rearing.

 Pozzo metano
Methane well

Valle da pesca
Fishing valley, Comacchio (Ferrara)
 Case Ente Delta-Padano
Houses of Ente Delta Padano

Sciopero braccianti
Labourers' strike, Ariano nel Polesine (Rovigo), 1954

Ente Delta Padano

In 1951 the "Ente Delta Padano" was established with the aim to carry out new land reclamation activities, to parcel out part of the large landed estate and replace it with the small rural estate on mortgage. The territory managed by this Authority involved the Provinces of Venice, Rovigo, Ferrara, and Ravenna. Several works were carried out: roads, schools, churches, consulting rooms, and reclamation activities. The reform could not solve the issue of unemployment in the countryside, and made even worse the labourers' conditions, to the extent that the protest led in 1954 to an important strike.
For thousands of people, migrating was the one and only solution: the phenomenon was more linked to the economic and social condition rather than to the Po floods (the far-reaching one of 1951 or the floods in 1957, 1960, and 1966 that affected only the Delta).
At the same time, many of the allottee of the lands of Ente Delta decided to sell their estates: they created in this way the premises for the birth of a new land organization.

Comprensorio Riforma agr
Territory involved by the Po Delta Agrarian Reform

Veloc abbassamento suolo
Subsidence speed (centimeter/year) caused by the methane waters extraction in the Delta: 1951-57 from G. BORGIA - G. BRIGHENTI - D. VITALI, La coltivazione dei pozzi metaniferi del bacino polesano e ferrarese. Esame critico della vicenda, Inarcos, Bologna 1982; 1957-62 and 1962-67 from M. CAPUTO - L. PIERI - M. UNGUENDOLI, Geometric investigation of the subsidence in the Po Delta, Bollettino di Geofisica Teorica e Applicata, Udine 1970; 1967-74 from M. BONDESAN - U. SIMEONI, Dinamica e analisi morfologica statistica dei litorali del Delta del Po e alle foci dell'Adige e del Brenta, Memorie di Scienze Geologiche, Padova 1983

The Problems of the Delta

The Po Delta is characterized today by some important problems. Some of them have natural origins, while others have been caused or accellerated by man. The most important problems are:
- the artificial subsidence, caused by the forced drainage of the surface waters and by the layer, linked not only to reclamation activities and agriculture, but also to the exploitation of deeper aquifers, as in the case of the extraction of methane waters from the Quaternary deposits that was carried out between 1938 and 1963;
- the reduction of the transportation of solid material by the rivers and the subsequent erosion of the beaches. Already at the end of the 40s the Po Delta had stopped to grow.
These phenomena also led in the last years to the raise in level of the marshy waters in the aquifers and to an increasing upstream movement of the salt water wedge along the rivers.

Acque sotterranee
M. BONDESAN, Subterranean water system along the coast

Risalita cuneo salino
M. BONDESAN, Graphic reconstruction of the upstream movement of the salt water wedge
Floods of the river Po in the 50s

Piena Po 2000Flood of the river Po in 2000, Pontelagoscuro (Ferrara)

Altimetria Delta Po
Altimetry of the eastern sections of the provinces of Rovigo and Ferrara, from M. BONDESAN, Il Delta del Po studi ed immagini, Ferrara 1990
Geomorfologia Pianura Padan
Detail of the Geomorphological Map of the Po Plain, scale 1: 250.000, M.U.R.S.T., Coord. G.B. Castiglioni, realized and printed by S.E.L.C.A., Florence 1997
Magra Po 2003
Extraordinary low water of the river Po in 2003, Pontelagoscuro (Ferrara)

Beach, photo L. Bottaro

Enel - Thermoelectric plant in Porto Tolle, photo D. SONCIN

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"