It’s known for its ancient history, its pizza and – of course – its landmass’s resemblance to a boot. But what about its rivers? What are the longest rivers in Italy?
In fact, in global terms, Italy’s 1,200 or so rivers are on the shorter side. This is likely due to another of its natural wonders, the Apennines, a mountain chain that cuts through much of its centre, creating a divide. Nevertheless, this doesn’t stop them ranking among Europe’s most powerful rivers, and providing vital sources of irrigation, drinking water and power. So, wat-er Italy’s longest rivers? Read on to find out.
1. River Po: The Largest River in Italy
Length: 405 miles
The River Po is the largest river in Italy. It begins its 405-mile journey at the mountain of Monte Viso in the Cottian Alps. From there, it travels east across northern Italy, through cities like Cremona, Turin, and Ferrara, before emptying into the Adriatic Sea. As well as being Italy’s longest river, it’s also historically the biggest river in Italy by discharge.
The Po River has been an important waterway since ancient times and is still used today for transportation and irrigation. Somewhere around a third of the country’s population is said to live within the Po Basin, which is responsible for an estimated 35% of its national agricultural production. It also provides power for several hydroelectric power plants.
The river is home to a variety of fish, including carp and trout. However it’s most famous for its giant catfish, some of which grow up to nine feet long.
2. River Adige
Length: 255 miles
With a length of around 255 miles and a basin covering a surface area of 4,710 square miles, the Adige is the second largest river in Italy, and a tributary of the River Po. It rises in the South Tyrolean region of Vinschgau within the Alps. From this northern source near Italy’s border with Austria and Switzerland, it travels south.
Along the way, the Adige flows through the city of Verona and is a popular tourist destination due to its picturesque setting and numerous historical landmarks.
Its most famous bridge is the Ponte Pietra. Originally built by the Romans in 100 BC, this arch bridge has since been rebuilt a number of times, most recently after World War II using original materials. The Adige is also a major source of hydroelectric power.
3. River Tiber
Length: 252 miles
One of the longest rivers in Italy, legend inextricably ties the Tiber to the city of Rome, which is said to have been founded on its banks in 753 BC. The river was certainly a vital trading hub to the Romans.
Rising at Mount Fumaiolo in Central Italy’s Apennine Mountains, the 252-mile long Tiber travels through major cities such as Rome, Florence, and Pisa before emptying into the Tyrrhenian Sea.
The Tiber is an important waterway for both commerce and transportation, and is also a popular tourist destination. The river is particularly well-known for its stone bridges, including the Ponte Sant’Angelo and the Ponte Vecchio.
4. River Adda
Length: 194 miles
Beginning in the Alps close to the Swiss-Italian border, the Adda runs through the Lombardy region for approximately 194 miles. The fourth on this list of Italy’s longest rivers, it then passes through Lake Como before joining the River Po just upstream of the city of Cremona.
Today, the Adda is a major source of hydroelectric power and is used for irrigation and transportation. The river is also a popular tourist destination, as its scenic beauty attracts many visitors from all over the world.
5. River Oglio
Length: 170 miles
The Oglio River is one of the longest rivers in Italy, flowing for over 170 miles through the Lombardy region through the provinces of Brescia, Mantua, and Cremona before emptying into the Po River.
The Oglio River is an important source of water for agriculture and industry in the Lombardy region. It’s also a popular destination for canoeing and fishing.
Italy's Longest Rivers
As we’ve seen, the longest rivers of Italy are interconnected. Many are even tributaries of the biggest river in Italy, the Po. And all of them are vital in their own way to the landscape and population which surround them.