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Sandolo Residences

Path from Ferrara to Portomaggiore – about 28 km.

From the Este Castle, go along Corso Giovecca up to a large roundabout, where you follow to the right the bike path that runs in the greenery near the city walls; past the bridge on the Po di Volano, reach the ancient hamlet of San Giorgio and then turn left into Via Comacchio.

After a few kilometres away, on the right, there is the deviation for Aguscello: it is a short and pleasant walk along a tree-lined road that winds through the green countryside, sprinkled with old rural homes and manor houses. Just before the town, of particular note is the nineteenth-century Villa Mazza, surrounded by a large park. Continuing along Via Comacchio to the village of Cona, you turn towards Gualdo and then you reach Voghenza, one of the oldest centres of Ferrara. 

Voghenza was the capital of the area at the time of the Roman Empire; in the Middle Ages it was an important Episcopal see until the transfer of the pulpit (7th century) in Ferrara. Of particular note are the Church of St. Leo (with the sarcophagus of the medieval saint) and the archaeological area, the most conspicuous among those existing in Ferrara, dating back to a period ranging from the first to the third century and visible from the street, beyond a fence.

Voghenza is really close to Voghiera, a centre built along the river Sandolo, a branch of the medieval Po delta which extinguished in the 1500s; it connected the two branches of the Po Volano and Primaro, that still exist. The two countries are separated only by the large and lush park of Villa Massari-Ricasoli, now Mazzoni (XVIII sec.), built as a summer residence of the Papal Legates of Ferrara.

Just beyond the last houses of Voghiera, the large quadrilateral Delizia di Belriguardo stands out (a Delizia is a prestigious residence), one of the most magnificent buildings of Renaissance Italy, started in 1435 by the will of Niccolò III d'Este that today houses the Archaeological Museum.

Continue beyond the village of Runco until Gambulaga, agricultural town dominated by the imposing eighteenth-century parish church attributed to the architect Antonio Foschini.

In the middle of the countryside, not far from the town, there is the sixteenth-century Delizia del Verginese, almost a miniature castle, famous as the habitual residence of Laura Dianti, mistress of the Duke Alfonso I d'Este.

Then, you head towards Sandolo where you visit the Romanesque Church of San Michele, to finally reach the big centre of Portomaggiore. Its name, along with those of the nearby Portoverrara and Ripapersico, recalls the ancient presence of rivers now disappeared, which made ​​it possible to navigate where now a fertile countryside extends.

Thanks to its strategic location, in the middle of a dense waterway network, Portomaggiore became an important centre, which already in the fifteenth centurycounted more than a thousand inhabitants. Few vestiges remain of its rich history, since the centre suffered heavy destruction during the 2nd World War, but many traces are underground and sometimes emerge through excavations, both random and scientifically conducted.

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