The turquoise waters of the Elsa River, rendered blue by the limestone in the water, originate in the Montagnola in Siena (municipality of Sovicille) and, after a few kilometers, are further fed by ancient mineral and hot springs in the towns of Le Vene and the “Caldane”. Interspersed by waterfalls and pools, the rushing river can be explored at all times of the year.
Travelling between Le Vene and San Giorgio, the hiking itinerary covers the route known as SentierElsa, which starts in the medieval town Colle di Val d’Elsa and continues along bridges, stairs and equipped crossings. The first part of this track, a section called Elsa Viva, heads off from Le Vene, and takes a 2.5km-route to the Diborrato waterfall.
One of the most interesting points along this route, this 9m-high waterfall is also known as the “tonfo del carro armato,” a reference to the story of a military vehicle that ended up in the water during World War II and was never retrieved. In the warm, sheltered environment near the waterfall, the river seems like a subtropical landscape and is popular amongst hikers and tourists.
Alternatively, for a more adventurous route, visitors can trek the first part of the river hike from Le Vene all the way to the Diborrato waterfall, alternating between walking and swimming (with proper equipment), and after that, soft rafting along a 1km-stretch that is easily navigable, presenting only a minimum I/II difficulty level (on the WW scale), until San Giorgio. Carrying 6 persons at a time, the raft is guided by qualified navigators, passing through alder, willow and elder trees, as well as travelling through the river’s ups and downs, pools and waterfalls along the way, finally disembarking at San Giorgio.
For more information about guided tours and the route, visit the Colle di Val d’Elsa/More information on the route and tour guides can be found on the website of pro-loco di Colle di Val d’Elsa (Italian).