The Donauradweg (the Danube River bicycle route) now has several imitators including within Italy! And along Italy’s longest river [the Po] bike paths are beginning to appear, similar to that already developed by the Province of Ferrara and which runs along the right bank of the Po for the entire length of the Ferrara tract.
This is a section of the bike route that needs to show little envy of its Austro-German sister, except for the scarcity of punti ristoro [rest stops such as a bicigrill. RB]
along the route, the only snack bar I saw along the way is at the bridge that crosses the Po between Polesella and Ro Ferrarese; still, the path is all asphalt, mostly in good condition, with only some sections that are rather rough. There is pretty good signage, but in truth once you have found the river bank it is pretty difficult to lose it!
One possible route which I have explored leaves from the FS train station in Adria, with connections from Venice (by Ferrovie Venete) and Chioggia and Rovigo (by Trenitalia); once outside the station ride south straight through the village to get across the large drawbridge [at Via Chieppera] and then continue on the wide road to the left [Strada Chieppera, SR495] to the long bridge that crosses the Po.
(Alternatively, a shorter route, but not very recommendable because of its heavy traffic, is to turn left just outside the train station to join the busy Via Monsignor Filippo Pozzato, which becomes provincial road SP45, and shortly after [in about 3 1/2 km] take the on-ramp to the left, to the new bridge over the Adria Channel, which then re-joins SR495 described above and that takes you to the long bridge over the Po.)
After the bridge over the Po continue for a few km on the wide regional road; then take one of the cross-streets to the right [at Crociarone for example] and get on the quieter Via Provinciale and follow it all the way into Ariano Polesine.
At Ariano nel Polesine cross the steel trestle-bridge [over the Po di Goro] and immediately on your right a big sign indicates that you are on the Destra Po [right bank of the Po] route. Follow the path along the river which, in fact, here is still the Po di Goro tributary, and continue up this river for several bends to come to the main branch of the Po (Po di Venezia).
The route is almost entirely on a dedicated cycle path interrupted by only a few short sections open to motorized vehicles. In effect, one doesn’t pass through any centers of habitation; the few villages are all to the south and at some distance from the river bank. Some signs along the trail remind us that this is the landscape described by Riccardo Bacchelli in his famous novel “Il Mulino del Po” [The Mill on the Po].
After passing under the large bridge over the Po that connects to Polesella, we come to the village of Francolino; here you drop down from the embankment and head south through town on the main street [Via dei Calzolai]; immediately after the last house, in about 2km, we will find, on the left, a bicycle path built in 2007; the path switches between the left and right sides of the road [which is still Via dei Calzolai], requiring the cyclist to make a number of road-crossings. (Alternatively, you can continue along the Po as far as Pontelagoscuro and then follow local roads to the Ferrara train station; see altimetry and map)
After a few km you reach the outskirts of Ferrara; you should take the bike path on the right which crosses a park on the north of the city, and runs into Via Riccardo Bacchelli and its bike path that follows around the walls of the city. A bit further [to the west] you will come to Via Porta Catena that leads directly to the Ferrara train station, which is on the Venice-Bologna line.
If time permits take the opportunity to visit the town-center of Ferrara, recognized to be a bicycle-friendly city like no other in Italy; immediately in front of the train station, on the left, take the bike path on Viale della Costituzione, and then continue along Viale Cavour to Castello Estense, a castle surrounded by a moat, that is the symbolic center of the city. Near the south-east tower of the castle is the statue of Girolamo Savonarola, who was born in Ferrara [and burned at the stake in Florence. RB]. From here, if you go right you will reach Piazza del Duomo (Piazza Trento e Trieste) [Cattedrale di San Giorgio]; and, if you go left on the Corso Ercole I D’Este, hell for the bike rider with its uneven paving stones, you will reach the Palazzo dei Diamanti [diamonds].
The best times for this route would be spring and fall; much less suitable would be the summer, when the sun beats down relentlessly on the path and there is hardly a remnant of shade. If you decide to tackle this route in the summer it would be wise to provide yourself with an abundant supply of liquids (such as mineral supplements) to help prevent severe dehydration.