The historic and geographic area of Polesine underwent several changes and transformations throughout the centuries.
The term Polesine derives from Medieval Latin pollìcinum or polìcinum, that means "swamp" or "wetland" and was used to identify the many islets along the course of one or more rivers. Evidence of its usage can be found in rental agreements for cultivable land dating back to the Middle Age.
Moreover, the term "Polesino" also appears in a map of the Duchy of Ferrara prepared in 1597 by Giovanni Antonio Magini, who was in charge of drawing up a reclamation project for Alfonso II d'Este. This word applies to the main feature of this area, which was constantly transformed by the rivers Po and Adige throughout the centuries. These important watercourses are, respectively, the first and third Italian rivers by flow rate and their huge quantities of water have always been flowing through the area of Polesine with significant drainage issues.
The area is also crossed by the Tartaro-Canalbianco, another watercourse that flows between the main rivers, and is clearly criss-crossed by a thick net of drainage channels, most of which were created under the Most Serene Republic of Venice.
Nowadays, the area of Polesine is the result of the joint action of alluvial flood events and human intervention, and its most eastern side changes constantly by the action of the warp deposited by water at the river mouths.
This is a land of enchanted landscapes, where water undoubtedly plays a leading role: rivers, canals, and the sea create a water labyrinth that embroiders the different environments of Polesine, and, more particularly, of the Po Delta.
The Po Delta Regional Park of Veneto, with its nature, colours, flavours and landscapes, offers a really unique experience. Especially worth mentioning is the sea, with its wide beaches of the finest sand, shallow waters and the possibility to choose between equipped seaside resorts and isolated, wild beaches where nature reigns supreme.
However, the Polesine is also rich in history, culture, and art, with bucolic hamlets,18th-century villas, churches, palaces, historic dwellings, and museums. All these reasons make it worth to visit this land and enjoy the kind and friendly hospitality of its people, who are committed to preserving the ancient traditions of their land with festivals and typical dishes that will reveal you the secrets of a simple and genuine culinary history.
Art and Culture
The area of Polesine is studded with villas and historic palaces, and its charming sites are reminiscent of past atmospheres and characters. Masterpieces are kept not only in the Rovigo Art Gallery (Pinacoteca di Rovigo), but also in historic and religious dwellings, palaces and villas. Moreover, the several museums throw light on the history and traditions of this territory. Accurately visiting and examining the above-mentioned sites is the only way to fully understand the real essence of Polesine. This is a bewildering land that can't be discovered immediately and completely, but that should be approached with curiosity and attention.
Starting from the 15th century, the Venetians began to build stately dwellings along the waterways that flowed through the area of Polesine and the Veneto region. These mansions are still shining as jewels in the countryside landscape of this area, especially in Fratta Polesine, Lendinara, Polesella, Canda, Crespino, and many other small villages whose names often call up their Venetian origin. The numerous villas scattered through the area of Polesine are really enchanting, and will let romantic visitors dive into atmospheres of other times to enjoy unique emotions. In Rovigo, the prestigious Palazzo Roverella, dating back to the 15th century and belonging to the powerful Cardinal Bartolomeo Roverella, hosts the permanent art gallery of the "Pinacoteca dell'Accademia dei Concordi e del Seminario Vescovile", as well as temporary art exhibitions of national and international significance. The permanent art gallery counts 450 works, mainly examples of the Venetian art created between the 14th and 18th centuries, and includes some world-famous masterpieces by Nicolò di Pietro, Giovanni Bellini, Palma Vecchio, Sebastiano Mazzoni, Girolamo Forabosco, Giambattista Piazzetta, Giambattista Tiepolo, Alessandro Longhi, and Rosalba Carriera.
The theatres of Polesine were built in the first decades of the 19th century, during a time of great cultural excitement: Adria had its own theatre in 1813, Lendinara and Badia in 1814, and Rovigo in 1819.
In the Social Theatre of Badia Polesine, you can still admire beautiful decorations and paintings, as well as the original stage with its wooden machinery. This theatre owes its nicknames of "Piccola Fenice" (Little Fenix) and "Scatola d'oro" (Gold Box) to the beautiful gold-leaf friezes used as indoor decorations.
The building known as "Granarazzo" of Lendinara was used since the 14th century for the storage of crops and food supplies. It was bought in 1812 by Girolamo Ballarin and then turned into a theatre. After a long period of inactivity, and following a careful restoration process, the Ballarin Theatre has now become the cultural hub of the town.
On the other hand, no traces are left of the 19th-century theatre buildings of Adria, where the more recent Municipal Theatre has been active since 1935 with an intense programme of plays and events. In the town of Castelmassa, the Cotogni Theatre was opened on 23 August 1884 with Rossini's The Barber of Seville, featuring the famous Italian baritone Antonio Cotogni as a special guest.
However, it is the Social Theatre of Rovigo, built between 1817 and 1819, the one that stands out above all others for its grandeur and prestige. After a series of ups and downs, the theatre was inaugurated in its current Liberty-style appearance by Pietro Mascagni, who directed his own Iris on 12 October 1904.