Since ancient times it was known as an insalubrious and dangerous area, so much so that historical sources remind us how the great mercenary Hannibal lost an eye and almost all his elefants in his march towards Rome. During the Renaissance, Cosimo I de’Medici took interest in this important lagoon and ordered the construction of the Chiusa di Ponte a Cappiano (still visibile in the area of the same name, just outside Fuceccchio) to regulate the water levels and to take advantage of the area for crops and river connections. Not only, the area of the Padule attracted numerous species of birds and was perfect for the hunting activites of the nearby Villa Medicea di Cerreto Guidi.
Today the Padule is one of the last refuges for numerous marsh plants and attracts many birdwatching enthusiasts, particularly during the spring months when many of the 150 species of birds can be seen such as herons, black-winged stilts and black swans.
Choosing Le Morette nature trail, you will explore the entire natural area on foot or by bike: the starting point is in Castelmartini, where the Padule di Fucecchio Nature Reserve Visitor Centre is located. Ask here for guided excursions and environmental education programs. If you prefer starting the visit of the marshland from the opposite side, you have to reach the Casotto del Sordo, not far from Fucecchio. During the warm season you can have a snack at the bar and enjoy a trip on the traditional “barchini” boats – departing from here – usually used by hunters during hunting season.
This evocative boat trip among the reeds has been well described by Indro Montanelli, one of the greatest Italian journalists of the 20th century, originally from Fucecchio and always attached to his land.
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