The "Dead Po"
A name ill-suited to the wonder and vitality of the place
What it is and where it is
Outside the walls of Carmagnola we find an ecosystem composed of wetlands and marshes that stretch along the bank of the Po going to include the territory of the municipalities of Carignano and Villastellone. This is an oxbow, that is, a riverbed where the water has stopped flowing, giving rise to a completely different environment. The contrast between the calm flow of the river's waters and the absolute calm of the lanca's stagnant waters makes it clear why many people call this area "Po Morto," but there is also another name by which it is known: "Lanca di San Michele."
Why it is special
The name "Dead Po" testifies to a natural behavior of rivers that we are not so used to thinking about: sometimes they change their ways and leave behind an empty, abandoned riverbed. However, the Lanca di San Michele is far from dead: among amphibians, insects, marsh birds, migratory and resident, it is an environment teeming with life, a true paradise for those who want to get close to these species to see them live, or try to get to know them a little more. Just walk quietly through the trails that crisscross this area to stumble upon exciting encounters!
Not to be missed
Not far from here, in Carmagnola, is the Civic Museum of Natural History, whose exhibition rooms tell the story of this area's unbreakable bond with Italy's great river. In addition to serving as a study center on river habitats, this facility also boasts of being home to the first Visitor Center of the Po River Park.
A bit of history
Its history was written by the great river itself: due to entirely natural causes, probably a heavy flood, this stretch of riverbed was abandoned by the Po, which turned to a new flowing bed. The "dead Po" is now considered one of Italy's best-preserved wetlands: a small and precious ecosystem now protected and recognized as a Special Nature Reserve of the Po River Park.
There is a loop trail linking the Museum of Natural History, based in Cascina Vigna, and the Lanca di San Michele, which also crosses the Gerbasso Woods, a natural area entrusted to the museum itself, which has cared for it to the point of reconstructing an example of a Po Valley lowland forest.
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