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Photo ©Shutterstock.com / Alessio Catelli

From reed beds in the marsh to cork trees in the high plains: discover the Tuscan lake that has enchanted and amazed since Roman times

Journey to Massaciuccoli, amidst history and nature

Trekking&Outdoor by Trekking&Outdoor
First stop
Chiarone Nature Reserve
LIPU Oasis of Massaciuccoli
LIPU Oasis of Massaciuccoli - Credit: Shutterstock.com / Robertonencini

We leave from the small Massaciucoli port, heading to the LIPU Visitors’ Centre. This is where we find a museum about the marsh’s ecology, with scale models depicting the lagoon environments. From the Visitors’ Centre, take the wooden walkways that dive into the typical marsh vegetation, like rushes and sedges. Along the way, we’ll come across observation huts, built for birdwatching and to take photographs. Indeed, this is where you can find many species of sedentary and migratory birds that live in the various environments: the “transparent” environment, shallows of body water, and the “floating” environment, floating parts of the marsh that are home to endangered plants. There are 260 different known bird species here, including some rare ones. Every day, visitors can also request a canoe for exploring the waters alone or in a group. For reservations, contact the Visitors’ Centre.

Second stop
Massaciuccoli Romana
Massaciuccoli Romana
Massaciuccoli Romana - Credit: Shutterstock.com / Alessio Catelli

The Sentiero delle Sughere starts at the Oasis, which leads to the high plains beyond the lake. Heading toward the centre of the town, we’ll come across the exposition pavilion stationed before the entrance to the Massaciuccoli Romana, an ancient villa that overlooked the lake in Antiquity. The archeological area is enriched with an excellently repaired mosaic and a museum that illustrates the history of the site, home to the ruins of the Venulei Villa and thermal baths. After visiting the complex, we continue climbing the trail before reaching Compignano, keeping Monte Aquilata to our left. We will shortly come to the town of Crocetta, near Villa Minutoli Tergimi, which sits atop the ruins of an ancient tower from the Lombard era.

Third stop
Sentiero delle Sughere
The plains in Massaciuccoli
The plains in Massaciuccoli - Credit: Shutterstock.com / Di Marco Taliani de Marchio

From Crocetta, we continue along the trail, admiring the spectacular views of the lake and the coast in the direction of Compignano as we dive deep into the woods of oak, chestnut and cork trees, the latter of which, called sughero in Italian, lends its name to the trail. We move in the direction of Compignano, still surrounded by vegetation, passing by Villa Hernandez and Villa Baldini, two other stunning buildings. Villa Baldini, with its splendid Italian garden, was home to Paolina Bonaparte for a short time, a noblewoman and sister of Napoleon. The trail continues to our final destination, Compignano, where we arrive after crossing a cobblestone road that leads to the Church of San Frediano. To get back to the starting point, we need only to retrace our steps.

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