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Montenero Regional Natural Reserve
Photo © Regione Toscana
Photo © Regione Toscana

Montenero Natural Reserve

Naturalistic attractions

Rugged landscapes, small waterfalls and verdant forests, a small, thriving nature area in the Alta Val di Cecina

A small-sized but rich natural casket covered with greenery makes its way through the plowed fields of the Alta Val di Cecina. The Pisa hinterland contains some 69 hectares of wilderness where plant and wildlife species are free to thrive: the Montenero Natural Reserve.

The reserve to protect this precious environment was established in 1997, along with the two other  natural reserves of the Alta Val di Cecina, the Forest of Berignone and the Forest of Monterufoli-Caselli. It lies on the hills that rise between Volterra and San Gimignano, near Ulignano, on the slopes of the Monte Nero. The modestly elevated relief rising in the Alta Val d’Era, from which the reserve takes its name, is furrowed by deep valleys carved by streams, including the Strolla Stream which is also the creator of spectacular natural landscapes, steep walls covered with lush forests alternating with spurs of bare rock. Waterfalls, wooded ravines and ophiolitic outcrops, dark green rocks rich in the mineral serpentine are some of the peculiarities that enrich the reserve.

In the past, Monte Nero was at risk of being quarried: there were plans to create mines among its bowels to extract gold, an activity that would have made the area barren and devoid of vegetation. However, some survey work disproved the false belief that the precious metal could be found there, and to this day it is a lush natural area.

The reserve is also crossed by a network of trails that permits to explore it in all its beauty. The most well-known trekking route, with good reason, is. The Anello del Montenero (Ring of the Montenero), a beautiful trail that leads to the discovery of its rugged and surprising landscapes, with vantage points overlooking the entire valley and from which it is possible to spot, with a bit of luck, a few birds of prey circling in the sky.

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