Discover Pisa and surrondings area
The Park of Migliarino - San Rossore - Massaciuccoli extends along the Tyrrhenian coast from Viareggio to Livorno. It covers an area of 24,000 hectares characterized by sandy beaches, vast stretches ofMediterranean bush, pinewoods and humid areas populated by deer, wildboars and many bird species. Points of interest are Lake Massaciuccoli (ideal for birdwatching) and the estates of San Rossore, Tombolo and Coltano. The Visitors’ Centre of the San Rossore Estate organizes guided excursions on foot or horseback, by bike, bus or carriage. Guided tours and environmental labs are also available at the Villa Medicea in Coltano and the Foresteria della Sterpaia, both providing accommodation for visitors.
Driving north towards the Pisan Mountains we come to two protected areas, interesting in terms of both history and nature. The Monte Castellare area is an ideal habitat for wild orchids which offers a walking itinerary passing through the remains of a medieval fortress. The Valle delle Fonti is rich in water springs which have been used to meet Pisa’s water needs ever since the 15th century.
As early as the first half of the 19th century Lake Bientina (formerly known as Lake Sextum) was the largest humid area in Tuscany. Subsequent reclamation caused the progressive drying of the area between the provinces of Pisa and Lucca that is now known as “padule”. The WWF Oasis “Bosco di Tanali” preserves a rich heritage of flora and fauna and is also a compelling destination for birdwatchers.
On the way to Castelfranco di Sotto is the recently established Montefalcone Nature Reserve, offering facilities for natural itineraries and guided excursions in the Cerbaie woods. Visits require authorization by the Corps of Foresters.
Driving southwards from Pisa along the SS 206 we come to the typical Tuscan landscape of the Pisan Hills. The WWF Oasis of Santa Luce covers over 105 hectares surrounded by woodland and Mediterranean bush; the lake of the same name is an interesting humid area and a halting place for many aquatic birds, which makes it ideal for birdwatching. The Visitors’ Centre, located a mere ten-minute drive from the seaboard, offers an environmental education lab as well as guided excursions for schools and groups.
In addition to the landscape of cultivated fields and cypress avenues, the Upper Cecina River Valley is characterized by natural erosion phenomena (“calanchi” and “biancane”) whose most striking manifestation is to be found in Volterra’s “balze”. The area also boasts a number of nature reserves, including the wooded areas of Berignone-Tatti and Monterufoli. The former was famous for wild boar hunting and timber production; the latter was noted for its stone quarries and mineral deposits.
Lakes and Ponds in Pisa Province
In Pisa Province there are numerous sheets of water of various sizes. Some of them, like Lake Santa Luce, are proper lakes of environmental significance; others have a sporting interest and are used for fishing and rowing races; yet others are fairly large in area and, being set in charming stretches of countryside, are interesting in view of their potential for tourist development.
Lake Santa Luce
The nature preserve of Santa Luce, set amidst cultivated fields in the Pisan hills, includes the whole of the lake of the same name (709,957 sq. m), originally a reservoir created in the 1960s by Solvay Italia for firefighting purposes. The Santa Luce Bird Sanctuary, located some three kilometres from the village of Santa Luce and a few dozen kilometres from Pisa, is a key stopover for migratory birds. In winter the lake becomes populated by pochards, teals, mallards and widgeons. Species present in the summer include Cetti’s and reed warblers, kestrels and buzzards. The best season is spring, when the lake and its shores are frequented by the great crested grebe, a species that has become the symbol of the sanctuary, and migratory birds such as the heron.