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The Po valley region
The longest river in Italy runs from a spring on Monviso, a mountain in Piedmont, to the Adriatic Sea, where it ends in a large and fascinating delta. It runs through several provinces of Lombardy, namely Pavia, Lodi, Cremona and Mantua, where this important source of water has long been used to irrigate the fields, or for industrial purposes. The slowest means of transport are those best-suited to the discovery of flora and fauna in this special ecosystem, such as the bicycle, exploiting the many cycle paths, or boats, exploring tributaries and natural and artificial canals.
The cities of the Po river valley present many artistic and architectural gems, but the urban structure overall reflects centuries of history. There are Romanesque basilicas such as San Michele and San Pietro in Ciel d’Oro, both in Pavia, Gothic Cathedrals such as that of Cremona, and Renaissance frescoes and palazzi, as in Mantua. There is also a great deal of Baroque and 19th century architecture.
However, apart from the towns and cities, culture is to be found all over the area, with many interesting castles, villages and forts. Culinary traditions are strong and have produced many specialities, such as cured meat products, cheeses, fruit, and the famous Oltrepò Pavese wines.
The area is also famous for high-quality crafts industries, such as violin-making in Cremona, and the ceramics of Lodi Vecchia, which have created a style perpetuating long traditions.