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October 2, 2011

Padule – The Fucecchio Marshes

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Darren & Malcolm @ 1:55 pm

This is a particularly beautiful and yet strange landscape.  The Padule lies between the areas of Lucca, Pescia and Fucecchio, right in the centre of the large flat valley south of the Appenines in which we live and the rolling Chianti hills further south.  It was probably once an inland sea but for many centuries it was an undrained, unmanaged, boggy landscape; uninhabitable and full of mosquitoes and malaria.  In the Middle Ages drainage canals were dug and the river damned, excavated and controlled.  This land became habitable and provided a rich alluvial landscape to grow a wide variety of crops, most common of these today is maize (presumably used primarily for polenta).  There are also many nurseries in the flatlands that grow maritime pines and olive trees, but also many shrubs and plants that are extremely rare and exported by growers all over the world.

At the heart of the Padule are the wetlands, the small lakes and the reed beds that are home to many species of birds many of which migrate to and from the area.  It is haven for bird watchers in particular.  The most common species that we have seen when walking the river banks have been herons and Kingfishers.  What is particularly lovely about the Padule for visitors is the contrast between these lovely, quiet marshes and the medieval treasures that surround it.  It is wonderful to walk, cycle (or run) in this area in such peace and tranquility and feel that you have discovered something beautiful that few other tourists have not yet discovered.  Here is a website in English to help.

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