The peculiar name of “valley” is used here because of how they originated. As a matter of fact, the valleys of Ravenna originated over a thousand years ago as a consquence of the “sinking” of the marshy land near the mouth of the river Po.
Since the stretches of water in the valleys are not deep (less than one metre), the light of sun crosses the water, reaching the bottom. This favours the growth of an abundant community of nutritious microalgae.
Just like riverine forests, wetlands are in fact the most biologically productive environments on Earth. As a consquence, the valleys are an extremely attractive area for fish and birds, which are more numerous than anywhere else. The pink flamingo (Phoenicopterusroseus), for instance live here, along with more than 300 other bird species, such as the stilt plover, little egret, grey heron and kingfisher.
Even mankind has soon realised that these valleys were teeming with fish. Mullets, breams, sea basses, and especially eels take refuge here and grow far from the predators of the open sea.
Every year, for five nights between November and December, eel fishing is allowed (and the resulting Slow Food festival). Fishers have come up with a fishing technique that is as ingenious as it is fascinating. The so-called “lavoriero” is a cusp-shaped trap made of wood and marsh cane that obstructs the mouth of the canals connected to the sea and thus catches the eels that are trying to reach the Ocean to breed.
Linked to the fishing activity, the typical Fishing Huts shape the landscape of the Ravenna valleys. They are huts made of poles, straw and marsh canes, with a huge balance fishing net (hence they are also called “bilancioni” or “padelloni”). They are good lookout points, but above all they are popular meeting places and social venues.