Polesine (pronounced|poˈleːzine in Italian; written "Połéxine" in unified Venetan script and pronounced IPA| [poˈleːzine] or IPA| [poˈeːzine] ) is a geographic and historic area in the north-east of Italy corresponding nowadays with the province of Rovigoit Citation|contribution=polesine|title=Il Vocabolario Treccani|publisher=Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana|location=Rome|date=1992|contribution-url=http://www.epsilan.it/treccani/print.asp?LEMMA=171895] ; it is a strip of land about 100-km long and 18-km wide located between the lower courses of the Adige and the Po rivers.


The eastern portion of Polesine corresponds to the delta of the Po, and it is constantly expanding eastward because of the detritus sediment phenomenon.

The Po and the Adige are the first and the third biggest rivers of Italy as for rate of flow, yet another river flows across Polesine between these two main rivers: the Canal Bianco; this means that by far most of the fresh water of Italy flows into the sea through Polesine.Due to this large amount of water it has to deal with, it has lots of canals for drainage.

The biggest city is Rovigo (51,000 inhabitants), followed by Adria (20,000 people).Other important centres are Porto Viro, Lendinara, Porto Tolle, Badia Polesine, Occhiobello and Taglio di Po.Important agricultural centres are Arquà Polesine, Loreo, Polesella and Lusia.


"Polesine" is a Venetan term (in classic script) from medieval Latin "pollìcinum" or "polìcinum" meaning "swamp" or "wetland"; this is because this territory was a swamp when it was given the name.This happened after the disasters in the Venetan hydrography that followed the decline of the Roman Empire.


Mythological origins of Polesine

Polesine's origins are connected with the myth of Phaeton, the young god who drowned with the Sun chariot in the river Eridano (the former name of the river Po). In Crespino, a small village in Polesine, there is a square (the chief one of the town) dedicated to Phaeton, to commemorate the old legend and the oral tradition saying that Phaeton died in the tract of the river Po crossing Crespino.

Ancient times

The Adige river flowed more to the north than nowadays and the main course of the Po river was more to the south (more or less it was the current Po of Volano channel). This means that in ancient times the area lying between the two rivers was much larger than the current area named Polesine.

The Greeks founded Adria in the XII-XI century b.C. on a former channel of the Po (nowadays it is the lower course of the Canal Bianco river); the channel was given the name Adria and the sea was given the name Adriatic after the colony name.The channel Adria was then recognized to be the lower course of the Mincio river, that was flowing into the Adriatic sea in ancient times.

Etruscans and Venetians inhabited the area during the VI and V century b.C., then it was conquered by the Romans.Etruscans and Romans decontaminated the area by digging canals for drainage: the "Fossae Philistinae".

Some historians [for instance: Cite book|first=Jacopo|last=Zennari|title=La battaglia dei Vercelli o dei Campi Raudii (101 a. C.)|publisher=Athenaeum cremonense|location=Cremona|year=1958|language=Italian] think that the battle of the Raudine Plain of 101 b.C. could be fought in this area.

Medieval and Modern history

The name Polesine was given to the area after the fall of Rome and the disasters in the hydrography of the whole Veneto, traditionally referred to as the bursting of the Cucca banks in 589; Adria and its port lost their significance.In the meantime Rovigo was founded and fortified later in the X century, and provided of a city wall in the XII century; it became the new centre of the area.

In 1152 another disaster changed the hydrography of Polesine: the Po burst the banks in Ficarolo and the new main course started flowing much closer to the Adige.

The rulers of the whole Polesine (except for the new delta of the Po) were the Este until the war of Ferrara ended in 1484; then the Republic of Venice took possession of the territories north of the Tartaro-Canalbianco (including Rovigo), and the territories of Polesella and Guarda Veneta.Since then, the northern part had been known by the name of "Polesine of Rovigo" and the southern part had been known by the name of "Polesine of Ferrara".

The Este claimed again the possession of the whole Polesine during the war of the League of Cambrai, but after a short occupation in 1508-1511 the frontiers were back to those of 1484.

Between 1602 and 1604, an agreement between the Republic of Venice and the Papal States that then ruled on the Polesine of Ferrara allowed the digging of a new final course for the Po known as the "cutting of Porto Viro"; the toponym Taglio di Po means exactly "cutting of Po" and refers to this event, that has been the last change in the main course of the river until today.

Contemporary history

After the Congress of Vienna in 1815 all the territories to the north of the Po were included into the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia, thus giving to "Polesine of Rovigo" the extension it has nowadays.The name "Polesine of Ferrara" fell into disuse in the following years, so nowadays Polesine is just the province of Rovigo.

The floods

Due to the large amount of water passing through Polesine, many floods happened during the centuries.The main floods had been:

* 589 (Adige): the disaster mentioned above as the bursting of the Cucca banks, that changed the main course of the river;
* 1152 (Po): the disaster mentioned above as the bursting of the Ficarolo banks, that changed the main course of the river;
* 1438 (Adige): again the main course of the river changed; it no more passed through Rovigo, and it has started flowing in the bed it has nowadays;
* 1882 (Adige): the territory between the Adige and the Canalbianco was flooded; 63,000 people left the country and emigrated to South America [Cite web|title=Storia|publisher= [http://www.polesineonline.com/ PolesineOnLine]
] .
* 1951 (Po): two thirds of Polesine was flooded, compelling 150,000 people to evacuate the entire area.

Geological formation of the area

Actual Polesine territory is, geologically speaking, of recent formation, created by drifts taken by rivers Po and Adige, and subsequently from human modifications. In fact, men reclaimed and decontaminated the area before embanking the biggest waterways.

First origins goes up to the Pliocene epoch. Contemporary to the rising of Alps and Apennine Mountains, the entire Padania was filled by a long inlet (the Adriatic depression) and the seabed of this huge ditch was full of troughs and elevations.

At the end of the last glaciation (10.000 years ago), most of Padania actual territory was just formed. Landscape's last mutation was dued to the raising of the sea level and the ice melting.

In 1604, river Po's natural course was artificially modified and after this work actual delta was formed. Floods frequently happened in Polesine filled the depressions of the area with several bundles of sediments consisting in sand, clay and silt.


External links

* [http://www.polesineonline.com PolesineOnLine - Social-Cultural Portal of Polesine] History, culture, tourism, news, youth and music of Polesine. Chat and Community, Forum.

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