Stage 22 – Valli di Comacchio – Casal Borsetti – Stage that lends itself to two itineraries. The first goes towards Casal Borsetti and the sea, the second towards Mandriole (Trafila Garibaldina). In this case you could also reach Ravenna, with a flat but very long stage.
ANITA VARIANT: From Anita, leaving the hostel, take Via Valle Umana, then Via Casso Madonna (cyclists can go back in Via Madonna del Bosco up to the embankment). Continuing straight, you pass near a farmhouse and then an electrical substation. Go up the bank of the river Reno up to Agriturismo Prato Pozzo.
From Prato Pozzo, you take the embankment of the Reno again. Shortly after you arrive at the ferry dock for Sant’Alberto, an ancient river port in the middle of the marshes, now reclaimed. In case of need you can take the ferry and in a few minutes you are in the center of the town. Then you can resume your journey on the left bank of the Reno. For a long stretch on the right there is the Reno river and on the left the Valli di Comacchio with a remarkable variety of fauna and still some fish farms. Below the embankment some inhabited houses, others abandoned. A memorial stone recalls the “Trafila Garibaldina”; there are old and new water management structures, fishing huts with nets always taut on the right bank of the river. This leads to the state road that bears the same name as our route: Via Romea SS 309 (access to the state road can be difficult for cyclists). After crossing the bridge over the Reno, take the road that leads to the fishing huts. Taking Via Corriera Antica, you come across a path that leads to the monument that commemorates the place where Anita Garibaldi was buried.
VARIANT OF TRAFILA GARIBALDINA: after crossing the bridge over the Lamone and arriving in Via Poggi, instead of continuing towards the SS 309-Romea, you take the embankment towards the west. After a small lake there is a cart track towards the Augusta Estate. You cross some canals, pass the SS 309-Romea under the road, continue to the next bridge without crossing it. Thus, you reach a canal and return to the SS 309-Romea. Shortly thereafter we rejoin our Via Romea Germanica. In total, this appendix is 6.7 km – against the 10.6 km of the main route which includes Casal Borsetti. This can be useful if you can stay in Mandriole. Otherwise, two stages have to be taken into account: from Anita to Ravenna, for a total length of about 43.3 km.
We continue our journey up to the Canale Destra Reno (where we could stop in the locality of Mandriole). Taking the SP 24 and passing over a bridge with a lock, go along Via Poggi until you reach the state road which must be crossed very carefully. Walk along the canal on the road (Via Argine Sinistro Lamone Abbandonato) which becomes a dirt road. Take the cycle path that goes around the new port and enter Casal Borsetti. A bridge crosses the canal port. There you can go to the beach, to the pier. Further south is the modern parish church of Casal Borsetti.
22- Points of Interest
Trafila Garibaldina – The “Trafila” describes the series of events that, between July and August 1849, allowed Giuseppe Garibaldi to escape from Rome after the fall of the Republic, slipping through the fingers of the Austrian army, unharmed. Garibaldi’s escape proved to be an extremely difficult operation, and the hero, with his seriously ill and suffering wife Anita by his side, was forced to take an adventurous route through central and northern Italy. Initially, he was accompanied by the legionaries who had agreed to follow him; then the journey, out of necessity, continued with only a very small group of faithful supporters. Among the places they passed through: San Marino, Cesenatico and then the Ferrarese Polesine, because the initial idea was to reach Venice, where the Republic of Saint Mark led by Daniele Manin still resisted. Intercepted by Austrian naval and ground forces, they had to disembark at Magnavacca and then retreat through the Valli di Comacchio and Sant’Alberto. At Guiccioli Farm in Mandriole, Anita, exhausted, died at sunset on the 4th of August. Garibaldi’s journey continued through farmsteads, marshes, swamps: Sant’Alberto, the Pontaccio Hut, the (“Dantean”) pine grove in Classe, Ravenna, Ghibullo, Forlì, Terra del Sole, Modigliana… This is how the Romagna stretch of the Trafila concluded, to continue in Tuscany. Hundreds of people from all walks of life were involved in the rescue of Garibaldi. Nobody wanted money, nobody betrayed him.
Sant’Alberto – North of Ravenna, on the banks of the Po of Primaro (where the Reno now flows). It was surrounded by the Valli di Comacchio until around the middle of the 20th century, when the reclamation of the Lamone created fertile land, encouraging the immigration of farmers, mainly from the Apennine mountains. With this repopulation, the village changed its identity, passing from a village for labourers to an agricultural village. Founded in 988 by St. Romuald (founder of the Camaldolese Order), it was an uninhabited valley area, in which some islands emerged. In 1001, Romuald and Emperor Otto III founded a monastery attached to the hermitage. In the following years, a “hospitale” was opened for pilgrims (“romei”) coming from the Upper Adriatic Sea to Rome. In the 16th century, an intense land reclamation project was started with the aim of both making the territory healthy, by removing the unhealthy marsh waters from the houses, and obtaining new land for cultivation. Worth seeing: the Palazzone, military garrison from the 16th century, today the Museum of Natural Sciences. This is the starting point for excursions on foot, by bicycle and by electric bus to discover the Valli di Comacchio, including the extraordinary Boscoforte Oasis, inhabited by wild Camargue horses and flocks of flamingos
Casal Borsetti – At the time of the unification of Italy there were few traces of urbanization and no bathing establishments. The only building of a certain importance was the customs post which served as a refreshment point for the patrols on the coast, called the “Government Hope House”. In the second half of the 19th century Giovanni Borsetti obtained the post of guardian, engaged as a sentinel against smugglers. In 1917, the group of houses that was forming was called “Casal Borsetti”. In the post-war period, the town grew further and began to host war veterans left homeless, day laborers and people looking for a job from all over the Bassa Romagna. A small port, shelter for boats, had already been built in the past years. In the post-war period Casal Borsetti was also reached by prosperity. Since then, tourism has been the primary economic activity of the locality.
From the Valli di Comacchio to Ravenna – At the time of the Monk Albert, the main route was most likely the current road that connects S.Alberto to Ravenna (S.Alberto, as still today, could be reached by ferry). There was a practicable embankment between two lagoons (now reclaimed and cultivated). The decision to go towards the sea, in Casal Borsetti, was born for reasons of safety for pedestrians and cyclists (we hope that the issue can be resolved soon). From an environmental point of view, going east allows us to walk through beautiful coastal pine forests