Museo Regionale della Bonifica di Ca' Vendramin – Taglio di Po, Italy - Atlas Obscura

Museo Regionale della Bonifica di Ca' Vendramin

Taglio di Po, Italy

This former drainage pumping station was fundamental to the drainage of the Po delta. 


The former Ca’ Vendramin water pumping plant houses the Regional Land Reclamation Museum of Ca’ Vendramin. It is also the headquarters of the Ca’ Vendramin Foundation which manages, in addition to museum activities, the Delta and Lagoons International Laboratory which studies the ecology of the Po Delta.

This historic collection of machinery was critical to the efforts made in the “reclamation” of the island of Ariano in the Po Delta. Çonstruction began in 1900 and ended in 1903. The pumps were first tested in 1905. The function of the Ca’ Vendramin pumping plant was to raise the waters that were flooding parts of the island and introduce them into the, elevated and embanked, Veneto cana. This conveyed them near the mouth of the channel known as the Po di Goro and, through a system of lock gates, to the sea.

Four pumps capable of lifting 11,000 liters/second were originally installed, with steam engines heated by coal. In 1921, the plant was partially converted to electricity.  

The Ca’ Vendramin water pumping plant fulfilled its function, of keeping the reclaimed land dry, until the disastrous floods of the Po di Goro in 1957 and 1960. The phenomenon was partially caused by natural gas extraction on the delta, in consequence, the hydraulic regime of the territory was upset. In 1969, the magnificent Ca’ Vendramin water pump ceased operation.

Both the steam and electric-powered pumping mechanisms are on display alongside other important artifacts and information displays. Even the brutalist architecture of the buildings is worth the visit, particularly the very distinctive and obvious chimney.

Although the pumping and drainage works have “reclaimed” vast areas of land on the Po Delta much of it remains in its natural state and is a world Biosphere Reserve.

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