The main artery that cuts through Italy’s heartland, where 30% of its food is produced, is the 650-kilometer-long (400-mile-long) River Po, which winds its way from the Alps to the Adriatic Sea on Italy’s northeast coast. But a dry winter and spring mean this year it’s in trouble.

The “Big River,” as it is known, plays an integral role in the nation’s history. Before bridges were built, its deep waters protected civilizations on either side from invaders who could not cross.

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