The course of the River Mincio, the emissary of Lake Garda, is an area of great naturalistic, historical, devotional and cultural significance. The path has been protected since 1984 by the Mincio Park regional institution. The park stretches from Lake Garda to the River Po passing through the gentle slopes of the morainic Mantua hills, characterized by several fortified villages, and through the partially-cultivated flat area near Mantua where marshy fields fade into the great river. Since ancient times, Mantua and the River Mincio are strongly connected. Around the city, the river widens extending into three lakes: Superiore, di Mezzo and Inferiore. The hydraulic system dates back to 1190 and was conducted by Alberto Pitentino, who removed large territories from the marshes.