Lake Bilancino is an artificial basin that holds water from the Sieve River, boasting a dam 42 metres tall and extending for about 5 km in the Mugello, between the towns of Barberino di Mugello and Scarperia e San Piero. The lake welcomes thousands of visitors every year thanks to its beautiful nature, clean and swimmable waters, equipped areas and an excellent connection with Florence.
Lake Bilancino can be reached either on foot or by bike, along dedicated cycling paths that circle the area, and is perfect for paddling, kayaking and SUP. The landscape is particularly stunning around the “Bahia” resort and the area known as “Andolaccio,” both of which are equipped for tourism outings, including designated camper zones, parking lots and restaurants.
The route that we suggest for this itinerary starts and ends at Bahia, where you can also rent equipment. Heading counter-clockwise from this beach, you can reach the lake’s most beautiful bay after about 20-30 minutes of paddling.
The unique morphology of the basin, with boulders and white, rocky outcrops, bestows the water with an emerald colour, particular in May and June, when the vegetation on the shores is flooded. Poplars, willows and Alders emerge from beneath the surface, and it can be quite fun to move through them in your kayak. The wealth of marine life is also remarkable. When paddling around, you will likely come across large carps, pikes and perches hiding amongst the vegetation.
After exploring the bay, you can either return to the starting point (about 2km away, or 1 hour) or you can continue (for about 6km, or 3 hours) across the lake to the Gabbianello Natural Oasis, a stretch of land about 10 hectares in size that was established to protect the avifauna and where you can explore on your own or with a guided tour.
After visiting the oasis, the itinerary continues along the steep, forested banks of Bolle Barucci, another very evocative place vaunting the ghostly outlines of trees that were submerged when the lake was created. From here, head back across the lake to Bahia.
For more information about exploring Lake Bilancino by water and activities in the Mugello, visit the area’s tourist information website.