Due Carrare - Battaglia Terme: stories of flight and of barges
To the south of Padua, not far from each other, two museums tell through innumerable finds the glorious stories of flight and the less remarkable one of waterway navigation. This pleasant cycle excursion unfolds along the embankment tops of ancient waterways and carries with it numerous surprises from nature and history.
Start point:Montegrotto Terme
Finish point:Montegrotto Terme
Total distance:26,5 km
Grade of difficulty:medium
From the IAT (Tourist Information Office) in Montegrotto Terme one quickly reaches Due Carrare, cradle of the Da Carrara, Paduan gentlemen in the 14th century. A few traces remain of the medieval buildings that were the symbol of power and riches of the noble family, which have been incorporated into palaces and villas. A prime example is the Villa Zaborra – Avesani, better known as the castle of San Pelagio, a military outpost transformed into a villa in the 1700s. The site is a celebrated one because from here in 1918 Gabriele d’Annunzio and the 87th squadron “La Serenissima” left for the celebrated flight over Vienna. Inside the palace the original Museum of Flight has been fitted out, which tells of the military undertaking and the history of aviation and conserves numerous aircraft, helicopters and models of hot-air balloons and aircraft. Having reached the centre of Due Carrare we observe the Villa Priuli-Petrobelli, work of Scamozzi and the imposing agricultural courtyard belonging to the palace. Also in this case, the building developed from a pre-existing medieval nucleus that was the fortified courtyard of the Da Carrara. Making towards the north, we come across the delightful hamlet of Pontemanco, a small group of houses arranged in formation along the course of the Biancolino canal. In the area of the bridge the remains of one of the two ancient mills is still visible. Opposite stands the noble Villa Grimani - Fortini with its Marian oratory. We resume pedalling along the embankment of the canal in the midst of a pleasant and thickly wooded vegetation as far as a weir where a large water scoop maintains a regular run-off of water. We cross the hand-built hydraulic works and take the dirt embankment on the left of the Vigenzone canal proceeding in the opposite direction to the water flow. Passing beyond the Villa Erizzo, well immersed in its rural surroundings, we come across the very beautiful Ponte da Riva, entirely built of brick. With a brief detour we visit the church of the ex-abbey of Santo Stefano, which conserves the wall mausoleum of Marsilio I of Carrara and noteworthy medieval mosaics, before taking to the Vigenzone embankment again, this time on the opposite side and we remount it to go beyond the small hamlet of Maseralino in the municipality of Pernumia. Arriving next to a restaurant we cross the canal and stop to take a close look at the outside structure of what, until the end of the last century, was an old mill. Remounting the bicycle one pedals as far as Battaglia Terme, the land of the boatmen, where we schedule a visit to the Museum of Navigation. This museum is unique in its kind in Italy, with a collection of three thousand pieces, amongst which there is an outdoors collection of typical wooden boats and inside various sections devoted to components, boatyards, hydraulic equipment, river skills and life aboard.
About half an hour from the museum one returns to the departure point along the embankment of the Battaglia canal.