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The Emilia - Romagna Po Delta Park



The Po Delta Park is a very important protected area, from a natural standpoint. The natural element which mostly characterizes it is, of course, water. The unstable relationship between water and land, their ever precarious equilibrium has produced an incredibly changing landscape in the Po Delta, where woodlands, pinewoods and alluvial forests alternate with internal fresh or salt water wetlands.
The Emilia-Romagna Po Delta Park preserves the vastest extension of protected wetlands in Italy, the Comacchio Valleys being part of this area.

A very popular and common fish in the Delta, it has a centuries-old fishing tradition. Despite eels being a common species, they are much appreciated in the local and national culinary tradition; its biological cycle still arouses wonder and awakens magical feelings. It is a catadromous species: it reproduces in the sea but lives in fresh water.
It is a great migratory fish. The only known site or eels reproduction is the Sargasso Sea where eels lay the eggs, and then die.
Every autumn, males and females, ready for reproduction, travel towards the sea where they start their migration journey to the             Sargasso sea, between the Bermuda islands and the Antilles. The small opalescent larvae born from the eggs start on a journey in the opposite direction which will last 3 - 4 years. During their growth phases, they pass from the sinuous shape of leptocephalous to an adult-like but colourless shape: they are thus called "blind". This extraordinary journey through the depths of the Ocean from the Sargasso Sea to the European continent, is possible thanks to the Gulf stream. The entrance in the inland waters is when the last metamorphosis happen and the skin of the eels takes on its colour.
It is a species which lives long (from 3 to 14 years) and, when it is time to reproduce, it ends its days with a Journey back home. Males are smaller (up to 50 cm) while females can measure over one metre and weigh over 6 kilograms.

Pickled eels
The traditional process to pickle eels is organised in four main phases: cutting, spitting, cooking and packaging. The “cutting” consists in the operation of decapitating and cutting the eel into pieces and incising it to ease spitting. The second phase consists of impaling the eels -entire or in morelli (pieces)- on a long iron spit. Cooking is the most important phase of the whole production: the art of managing the fire and the spit affects the entire process. Packaging includes weighing and laying in picking (vinegar and salt) of the cooked eels. Thanks to this processing method eels keep all their flavour characteristics intact for several months.





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Scientific Website of the Po Delta Park