Riserva naturale Lucciola Bella

Lucciola Bella Nature Reserve

The Reserve is most famous for its rocky outcrops and jutting ridges

Municipalities: Castiglion D’Orcia – Pienza – Radicofani
Covers: 1148 hectares

The Lucciola Bella Reserve is south east of the town of Pienza, along the road that goes from the Val D'Orcia towards Chianciano Terme and which surrounds the eastern edge of the Crete Senese. The mouth of the river Orcia, which flows through the protected area, is in the east on Mount Cetona. On the reserve’s boundaries the river joins the Miglia stream and the Formone stream which flows down from Mount Amiata.The  reserve is most famous for its rocky outcrops and jutting ridges. These rough rock formations are caused by erosion and are typical of the landscape around Siena. Often used as grazing pastures, these areas are also rich in vegetation and bird life.

Much of this rocky terrain is void of any greenery although certain drought resistant plants manage to cling on, despite the high levels of salinity and constant erosion the clay topsoil is subject to. For example, there is absinthe wormwood, a small aromatic bush with silver-green leaves which only grows in the clay erosion areas of Tuscany and Emilia Romagna. Other plants that thrive in this arid landscape are various types of couch grasses which are common along the coast but much rarer inland. Numerous bushy shrubs grow on the exposed river bed of the Orcia which are unique to southern Tuscany, northern Lazio and a few areas in Umbria.

In order to maintain the natural balance of the reserve and protect its wildlife, only traditional agricultural techniques are used. No artificial pesticides are used and the mosaic of vegetation around cultivated areas is kept as nature intended. The reserve has an environment which encourages the nesting of the extremely rare stone curlew. The whole Crete Senese area is fundamental for the survival of the montagu’s harrier which nest here in great numbers. In short, this area is an ornithologist’s paradise as well as being a beautiful nature reserve.
a superb example of Renaissance architecture, built upon request by Enea Silvio Piccolomini, Pope Pio II from 1458
The year following his papal nomination, he hired the architect Bernardo Rossellino to transform his obscure village into a city. Piazza Pio II opens up in the centre of the little town and is the hub of Pienza’s urban structure. The little Renaissance square was studied to welcome the urban constructions being built at the time, and in fact all of the main monuments of the town face onto it. ...