Orrido di Botri and Balzonero State Biogenetic Nature Reserve - Tuscany

Orrido di Botri and Balzonero State Biogenetic Nature Reserve - Tuscany

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Type of protected area - Where it is located

Typology: State Biogenetic Nature Reserve; established with D.M.A.F. July 26, 1971.
Tuscany region
Province: Lucca

The Orrido di Botri State Biogenetic Nature Reserve protects a rocky gorge with steep limestone walls; the area occupies an area of ​​192 hectares in the Municipalities of Bagno di Lucca and Coreglia Antelminelli.

Orrido di Botri Nature Reserve (photo


The Orrido di Botri is an imposing limestone gorge, characterized by very steep deep-dug walls, up to 200 meters high and in some stretches just a few meters from the moon. It therefore looks like a real karst canyon, a narrow and sunken valley, created thanks to the erosive action of the waters of the Rio Pelago on the limestone rocks of the Apennines. The stream is wedged between high rocky walls, forming a natural environment of rare charm and of considerable geological and naturalistic interest. The establishment in 1971 of the Orrido di Botri and Balzonero nature reserve on the initiative of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has allowed the conservation of this particular site, where flora and fauna find an ideal, intact and protected habitat. The flora is particularly rich and interesting: in fact, numerous rare botanical species can be admired, such as the uncommon pinguicola (Pinguicola vulgaris), an insectivorous plant, with purple flowers and viscous leaves capable of capturing small insects with which it feeds.
Thanks to its integrity, the territory of the Orrido di Botri is also an optimal environment for numerous animal species, first of all the golden eagle, which still nests here, in addition to many other species of birds of prey.

To be seen

The small village of Montefegatesi, surrounded by some of the most suggestive peaks of the oasis (Rondinaio, Tre Potenze, Pratofiorito and Coronato), represents the gateway to the Orrido di Botri, just twenty minutes by car from the visitor center of Ponte a Gaio. Its name most likely derives from the liver red color characteristic of the geological formation on which the town is located. The village offers significant hints of historical and artistic interest; not to be missed is the splendid church dedicated to San Frediano, dating back to the thirteenth century, in whose sacristy there are two valuable 15th-century Florentine school tables. Except for a short period during which Montefegatesi fell into the power of the Florentines, the fortress remained constantly under the protection of Lucca and the Guinigi, annexed to the vicarage of the Val di Lima. The castle was in fact located in a strategic area, an advanced sentinel of the Lucca republic towards the Modena border. Still today the fortress of Montefegatesi, located in a privileged position, dominates the valley crossed by the Fegana stream, into which the waters of the Rio Pelago, a wonderful architect of the Orrido di Botri, flow.
The characteristic village of Tereglio is also located a few kilometers from the oasis. The presence of the city walls testifies to the importance of this village as a stronghold and crossroads of considerable interest. In fact, here we find one of the most ancient roads in Tuscany: the Maria Luisa Duchess of Lucca road, which, going up the valley of the Fegana torrent, reached the peaks of the Apennines and the access passes to the Val Padana. Loasi di Botri houses the Strada Maria Luisa and within it suggestive itineraries wind. The parish church, of Romanesque origin and modified in the fifteenth century, is dedicated to S. Maria Assunta; it is enriched by a valuable wooden crucifix by Barone Berlinghieri (13th century) and by a wooden table depicting the Annunciation, dating back to the 14th century. In addition to the fort and the Mezzana gate, evocative evidence of the medieval past of Tereglio, several Renaissance buildings are well preserved, enriched by stone portals and details of the eighteenth-nineteenth-century furnishings, whose facades, with the characteristic loggias and terraces, dominate the hill on which the village is perched.

Information for the visit

The visits inside the ravine, compulsorily accompanied by authorized guides, wind along two itineraries of varying difficulty, which can only be traveled in summer. Guided tours start from Ponte a Gaio, the only access to the hall, home of the reception center and refreshment point, where, in addition to the purchase of publications, guides on the oasis and typical products, it is possible to taste the dishes of the rich local culinary tradition.

How to get there:
- By car: from Lucca follow the SS 12 of the Brenner pass to Fornoli, where it deviates for Tereglio, following the provincial road 56 and the indications for Ponte a Gaio - Orrido di Botri. Ponte a Gaio can also be reached from Bagni di Lucca by following the signs for Montefegatesi.

Mountain Community of the Serchio Valley
Via Umberto I, 100
55023 Borgo a Mozzano (LU)
Tel. 0583 88346

Orrido di Botri Visitor Center
Loc. Ponte a Gaio Montefegatesi (LU)
Tel. 0583 800022

Video: Orrido di Botri - Un Canyon in Toscana (August 2022).