The Cerbaie Hills
The Cerbaie Hills represent a territory very rich in valuable environments with rare plant species that make it one of the most biodiverse places in Tuscany.
The Cerbaie hills consist of a plateau (maximum altitude 115 meters above sea level), located between the Arno valley to the south and the Paduli of Bientina and Fucecchio respectively to the west and east. The short watercourses that run through the plain have furrowed quite deeply the substratum of sands and conglomerates, originating narrow "valleys" where microclimatic conditions have allowed a variegated floristic presence and the survival of associations of cold climate plants even at very low altitudes.
The Bientina Marshes are an important wetland area, the remnant of a larger lake (ex-Lake Sesto) between Cerbaie and Monte Pisano. In many areas of the Marsh (Botronchio, Grugno) there are environments of high complexity constituted by groups of valuable and now rare plants.
In this slender and apparently ordinary handkerchief of hills, there suddenly appear carnivorous plants (Drosera corsa) present in the world only in a few square metres near Poggio Adorno, or communities of gentians (once present in the marshes of mid-Italy) found in the peninsula only in a grassy prairie not far from Galleno, or even water violets which today have survived, not without incautious vicissitudes, in small lakes in the depths of remote valleys on the Cerbaie...
There are also sphagnum bogs, relict environments of the last glaciation, which have remained alive only in the most remote corners of woods, prairies or streams... in the midst of which tropical ferns (Felce florida) dating back to the Tertiary period often find surprising refuge. And then there are the countless marshes (Botronchio) and ponds and lakes and blades of water in which the woods of black alder sink, where swarms of absolutely precious species such as the humble little marsh soldier, the now rarefied sarello, the almost invisible common ophioglossus... And again, and never ending, the expanses of spring bells, snowdrops, bears and wild daffodils. With regard to the presence of animals, it should be noted that the morphology of the Cerbaie and its many valleys and wetlands are particularly suited to the proliferation of amphibians: common toad, tree frog, frogs, crested and spotted newt, easily spotted in the wet woods. Reptiles are also widely represented. Particular mention must be made of the great presence of avifauna, especially Ardeidae and Limicolae, - including the now rare Black-winged Stilt - often nesting or wintering in the neighbouring marshy areas (Bientina Marshes). The presence of these specific emergencies, in many cases found within natural habitats of value, makes this unique strip of Tuscany on the climatic border between the cold-humid mid-European zone and the warmer and drier Mediterranean, so much so that it has been recognized as a SCI (Site of Community Importance).
In order to facilitate the fruition of this beautiful area, 10 paths have been designed that surround (large ring of Cerbaie 66,1 Km path 200) and furrow (paths 201-209) the many places, naturalistically and scenically important, that we can find represented in detail in the Map of the hiking network of Cerbaie.