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The way down is located to the left of the bridge of San Marziale, as one stands with one's back to Colle di Val d'Elsa.

PARCO FLUVIALE DELL'ALTA VALDELSA : SENTIERELSAThis walking route, called SentierElsa, begins at Gracciano, south of Colle di Val d'Elsa itself, from the bridge at San Marziale, and runs alongside the river for a distance of 2 km, until reaching a place called San Giorgio.
The way down is located to the left of the bridge of San Marziale, as one stands with one's back to Colle di Val d'Elsa.
Here one immediately comes across the Steccaia and the Callone Reale, two important pieces of hydraulic engineering, which are also visible from the pedestrian bridge above.
These works are of great importance to the town, inasmuch as they were used ever since medieval times to divert part of the waters of the Elsa.
In this way the water could be used for irrigation, and as the driving force for water-mills, in the first instance, and subsequently for paper-mills, steel-works, and for various industrial uses.
In particular, "La Steccaia" ("Pilework") serves to hold back and divert some of the waters of the river Elsa, thanks to a system of movable boards which can be placed between blocks of stone so as to form a pilework, in other words a dam which prevents the water from flowing freely, while the "Callone Reale" is a sluice which regulates the amount of water which enters the artificial channel which flows towards the city and which is known as the gora.
The date when this hydraulic system was built is unclear; some sources date it to the 10th century.
However, we know the exact date when it was restored -- 1606, "under the auspices" of Ferdinando I dei Medici, the Grand-Duke of Tuscany, as is recorded on a commemorative plaque placed by the Medici family itself just below the Callone.
200 metres further down, we find the Diborrato waterfall: a cascade 15 metres high and over 10 metres deep, which in the last century was used by local people for bathing.
Proceeding along the route, below the waterfall, we find the Grotta dell'Orso (Bear Cave), so-called because they vaguely resemble the shape of a bear.
The path turns away from the river for 100 metres, before returning to it in the area where there is a huge flat boulder.
Next we come to the Gore Rotte, where there is another access point to park, with some Tibetan-style miniature bridges and walkways.
The walk continues for around one 1 km before reaching the zone of San Giorgio, where there is a kind of rope-bidge across the river.
Further down from this point are La Conchina, the Masso Bianco, La Nicchia and the Spianata dei Falchi, known in the 1930s and the 1940s as "the sea of Colle".
At frequent intervals along the walk one comes across steps, wooden fences, small crossing points, and safety fences, with numerous signs giving information about typical features of the area.
There are many different kinds of animals, vertebrates and invertebrates, to be seen along the walk.
In the river one can see fresh-water mussels (Unio Mancus), a bi-valve mollusc, which can grow as long as 10 cm and which lives in the mud or in the sand of the river-bed.
Among the underwater plant life it is possible to see river shrimps (Palaemonetes Antennarius), a small crustacean which can reach lengths of 5 cm and which feed on algae and acquatic plants.
Another crustacean, this time much harder to see, is the river crab (Potamon Fluviatile), whose shell can be as large as 10 cm.
A great many insects populate the river, and their larvae are even more numerous: dragonflies (Odonata), caddis flies, and mayflies.
Many vertebrates also inhabit the banks of the Elsa, and it is easy to come across some of them along the banks, as well as many kinds of fish, of course.
The chub (Leuciscus Cephalus) is the most common fish found in the Elsa, and there are great numbers of chub in this river, along with the barbel (Barbus Sp.) and the carpa (Cyprinus Carpio), a fish which can grow up to 30 kg in weight in this area.
While the gudgeon (Padogobius Nigricans) is the strangest fish to be found in the Elsa, there is no shortage of amphibians, such as the southern crested newt (Triturus Carnifex) and the spotted newt (Triturus Vulgaris).
There are many toads (Bufo Bufo) and tree-frogs (Hyla Intermedia), the only tree-dwelling amphibian in Italy, as well as the green frog and the jumping frog (Rana Dalmatina), so-Parco Fluviale dell'Alta Valdelsa : Martin Pescatorecalled for its prodigious leaps.
At times one can see animals swimming on the surface of the water: these are the ring snake (Natrix Natrix) and the Natrix Tessellata, both of which are completely harmless.
There are several species of birds to be seen in the river valleys, drawn by the abundance of nesting-places and food, including a very fine species of heron (Ardea Cinerea), which has a wingspan of almost 2 mt, and the egret (Egretta Garzetta), which are seen only in the winter.
One can also spot the wild duck (Anas Platyrhynchos) and the moor-hen (Gallinula Chloropus), the wagtail (Motacilla Cinerea), and finally the kingfisher (Alcedo Atthis), easily recognized by its bright plumage, which is blue-green on its back and orange underneath.
The only acquatic mammal present in the Elsa today is the coypu (Myocastor Coypus), a large rodent imported into Italy after WW2 and raised for its fur. Coypus are around 1 mt long and weigh around 10 kg.
The coypu has become widespread as a result of disastrous floods which have destroyed the farms along certain rivers where they were kept and bred, thereby releasing these animals into the wild.

Valdelsa: discover the area

  • Barberino Val D'elsa Barberino Val D'elsa
    A winding hilly road, once the ancient Via Cassia and now State road n° 2, leads up to the town of Barberino Val d’Elsa, situated high up above the valley.
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  • Casole d'Elsa Casole d'Elsa
    Casole d' Elsa is a village characterised mainly by its buildings of ancient brick, placed on the ridge of a hill from where one can enjoy a beautiful panoramic view.
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  • Colle Val D'Elsa Colle Val D'Elsa
    Colle di Val d'Elsa is located in the heart of Tuscany, in a strategic position, close to the cities of Siena, Florence and Volterra, along the route of the old Via Francigena
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  • Poggibonsi Poggibonsi
    Poggibonsi rises nearby the confluence of the Staggia torrent in the Elsa river, along the valley dividing the region of the Chianti by the Colline Metallifere.
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  • Staggia castle Staggia castle
    The walls of Staggia castle in Poggibonsi join the castle on the northern side and are today almost intact, with the exception of two short interruptions.
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  • Montaione Montaione
    The town of Montaione is in the province of Florence, but it is at an equal distance from all the most important cities in Tuscany.
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  • Monastery of San Vivaldo Monastery of San Vivaldo
    The monastery of San Vivaldo is certainly bound up with a succession of the Franciscan's Office leaving here a notable trace.
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  • Sovicille Sovicille
    Sovicille is situated at about 10 km west of Siena in the direction of Massa Marittima and Follonica.
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  • Castelfiorentino Castelfiorentino
    Castelfiorentino is situated in an optimous position on the Chianti hills, in the heart of Tuscany.
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  • Certaldo Certaldo
    Certaldo is divided between its medieval walled town on a hill and the modern residential and industrial suburb spread out below.
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  • Valdelsa Valdelsa
    Val d'Elsa is located in the heart of Tuscany, in a strategic position near the cities of Siena, Florence and Volterra.
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Accommodations in the area

    • Colle Val D'Elsa (Siena)

    La Pieve

    La Pieve, charming farmhouse located on the hills of Val d'Elsa, between Volterra and San Gimignano, along the Via Francigena, in the heart of the Tuscan countryside, with its luxuriant nature and rich history.
    Framed by olive trees and a wood, it fosters a direct dialogue with nature in complete relaxation where they contemplate and enjoy the stillness in private and unique spaces.

    Availability request

    • San Gimignano (Siena)
    • 8 km from Valdelsa

    Agriturismo Villa il Palagetto

    Agriturismo Villa il Palagetto located in the vicinity of the medieval centre of San Gimignano, nestled in the rolling hills of the gorgeous Tuscan countryside.
    Provides comfortable accommodation in 6 double bedrooms and two Suites

    Availability request

    • San Gimignano (Siena)
    • 8 km from Valdelsa

    Agriturismo la Lucciolaia

    In the vicinity of the medieval centre of San Gimignano, nestled in the rolling hills of the gorgeous Tuscan countryside, Agriturismo La Lucciolaia is perfectly located for exploring Tuscany's most prized art towns.
    This ancient farmhouse has been recently renovated and divided into eleven double rooms and two Suites, where the magic atmosphere of past times is perfectly blended with modern comforts.

    Availability request

    • San Gimignano (Siena)
    • 13 km from Valdelsa

    Agriturismo Cesani

    Azienda Agricola Biologica Cesani is an organic farm nestled in the rolling hills of the Tuscan countryside, in the tiny country hamlet of Pancole, 6 km to the medieval town of San Gimignano.
    Azienda Agricola Biologica Cesani is an organic farm nestled in the rolling hills of the Tuscan countryside, in the tiny country hamlet of Pancole, 6 km to the medieval town of San Gimignano.

    Availability request

    • Siena (Siena)
    • 18 km from Valdelsa

    Agriturismo Marciano

    Agriturimo Marciano : an exlusive opportunity, two holidays at the place of only one. stay in the country and life downtown. Marciano is located near the walls of the Middle Age town of Siena.
    Five confortable double rooms and a suite with a beautiful sight on the Siena Duomo

    Availability request

    • Greve in Chianti (Florence)
    • 28 km from Valdelsa

    Villa Chianti 7 beds

    Villa Chianti is a private villa for rent in Chianti area with pool and garden that can accommodate up to 7 people.
    An oasis of peace and tranquility with views of the Chianti valleys not far from the main tourist attractions of Tuscany.

    Availability request

    • Firenze (Florence)
    • 37 km from Valdelsa

    Marignolle relais & charme

    The charming Marignolle Relais & Charme, nestled the hills of Florence, is the ideal solution for those who want a place of excellence and relaxation and love peace and privacy without the amenities of a luxury hotel.
    Marignolle Relais & Charme is especially appreciated by travelers looking for style and tradition by offering deluxe rooms or junior suites in a refined, with superior comforts and impeccable services that make this relais an excellence of Florence.

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    • Bagno a Ripoli (Florence)
    • 44 km from Valdelsa

    Villa Valdarno 12 beds

    Villa Valdarno is a typical Tuscan farmhouse located in a secluded and peaceful area in the heart of the Tuscan countryside, among vineyards and olive groves, and enjoys a privileged panoramic view of the Florentine Valdarno.
    The ideal solution for groups of friends or acquaintances who wish to spend their holidays in Tuscany with the comforts of a detached villa with swimming pool and large garden.

    Availability request

    • Montepulciano (Siena)
    • 65 km from Valdelsa

    Agriturismo le Caggiole

    Immersed in the verdant countryside around the noble town of Montepulciano, that boasts ancient Etruscan origins, Le Caggiole Estate is perfectly located for exploring Tuscany's most prized treasures.
    In a relaxing and cosy atmosphere uests are offered three comfortable, quiet double rooms with private bathrooms and two comfortable apartments for two persons and for small family groups.

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    • Lucca (Lucca)
    • 71 km from Valdelsa

    Historic Villa Lucca 12 beds pool

    Historic villa 14 km from the center of Lucca immersed in the green of the Tuscan vineyards and olive groves, it has a private swimming pool and a large park.
    Set on 350 square meters in a dominant position offers a unique view of the hills of Tuscany.

    Availability request

    • Castiglione della Pescaia (Grosseto)
    • 74 km from Valdelsa

    Villa Punta Ala 9 beds pool

    Beautiful villa with swimming pool surrounded by greenery and tranquility of the exclusive tourist destination Punta Ala and small attic used as service personnel only 300 meters from the sea of Tuscany.
    This ideal solution for those who want to spend their holidays near the beautiful sea of Punta Ala with the comforts of an exclusive villa.

    Availability request

    • Castiglione della Pescaia (Grosseto)
    • 75 km from Valdelsa

    Villa Roccamare Castiglione della Pescaia 12 beds

    Beautiful and characteristic villa with stone finishes located in the exclusive Roccamare area in Castiglione della Pescaia.
    Surrounded by the green of the pine forest and the total privacy with 2000 sqm park equipped with relaxation area and barbecue is located about 400 meters from the sea and has a private beach.

    Availability request

    • Massarosa (Lucca)
    • 80 km from Valdelsa

    Stone Farmhouse Massarosa 8 beds pool

    Stone farmhouse in typical Tuscan style skilfully and elegantly renovated in a dominant position on the hills of Massarosa with spectacular views that reach the sea of Tuscany. The farmhouse has a swimming pool with whirlpool.
    Perfect solution for those that search the real authentic Tuscany staying in the hills but not far from the Versilia sea.

    Availability request

    • Viareggio (Lucca)
    • 81 km from Valdelsa

    Villa Torre del Lago 5 beds

    Typical Tuscan farmhouse for rent in Torre del Lago, Massaciuccoli area with 3 bedrooms and 5 beds, just 1 km from the Tuscany coast.
    Ideal solution for small groups or families looking for a villa for rent not far from the sea in a context of absolute privacy.

    Availability request

    • Cortona (Arezzo)
    • 82 km from Valdelsa

    Rocca di Pierle

    Set within the green hills of Tuscany, a few kilometers away from the old Etruscan town of Cortona farmhouse Rocca di Pierle is the perfect place to find peace and tranquility in contact with the pace of nature.
    Completely renovated Tuscan farmhouse with 3 rustic-style apartments. For groups possibilities to rent the whole villa.

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