At a point along the Arno River, between the bridges of Acqua Borra, Romito and the Romanesque Ponte a Buriano, this is where the realm of water and forested canyons reigns supreme, today making up the Valle dell’Inferno e Bandella and Ponte a Buriano e Penna Nature Reserves.
Moving against the current, at the beginning, the river flows calmly through the nearly vertical walls of the Vall dell’Inferno, today dammed by the Diga di Levane, but only half a century ago, the rushing waters breaking through the rocks instilled fear in passers-by and courageous foderai, who guided tree trunks down the river from the Casentino area to Florence and the shipyards in Pisa. The variety of the landscapes is breath-taking, including dense forests of oak trees. In the central stretch of the reserve, the walls become gentle banks, and where the river merges with the Ascione, you can find the Bandella wetlands.
Small wonders await you amidst the colourful water lilies and tangled reeds: elegant herons and little egrets, their ash-grey and white plumage, look for food in the shallow water, and together with common moorhens, they’re the easiest birds to see; hidden in the observation huts, it isn’t difficult to spot small and colourful common kingfishers whipping about or mallards swimming in the water. In various periods of the year, you can see mud-dwelling birds, ducks and many other birds that spend their winters here or happily make a quick stop during their spring and autumn migrations, taking advantage of the food and peace found in the reserve.