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Sentierelsa - riverside ramble and summer swim

  • Sentierelsa - riverside ramble and summer swim

    Put on your trainers or hiking boots and head to the turquoise River Elsa for a delightful ramble, particularly in summer. Known as the Sentierelsa, the River Elsa Path is fine for all but the smallest or least adventurous children. This riverside path hugs the river but crosses it at a couple of points. The route is sometimes rather narrow and winding and you do need to clamber over rocks at times. The rewards come in the form of lagoon-like pools, waterfalls, shady woods and peace and quiet. If you’re lucky, you might see a heron or kingfisher. Apart from one big waterfall, there are several smaller ones, a grotto and tempting pools en route. Known as the Cascata del Diborrato, this, the biggest waterfall, has a fifteen-metre drop, with the water cascading into a tem-metre-deep pool. This was, for many centuries, the typical bathing spot for the citizens of Colle di Val d’Elsa.

    In the height of summer, consider bringing a picnic and going for a dip in the river. En route you also see signs of the early medieval hydraulic system that helped tame and channel the River Elsa. This system, known as `le Gore’ by the locals, was first used to power mills and later used to great effect in the early industrialisation of the town. A riverside plaque points out that the hydraulic works were remodelled in 1606, during the domination of the Medici Grand Dukes. You can join this easily accessible path immediately after Gracciano bridge (il ponte di Gracciano, also called il ponte di San Marziale), to the south of Colle di Val d’Elsa. The path follows the river bed for 2km to the San Giorgio district. This route is now protected, part of the River Park of the Upper Val d'Elsa. Apart from the riverside path, it takes in the whole area stretching from Ponte Santa Giulia to Ponte di Spugna, including the so-called `Caldane’, thermal springs which date back to the time of the Etruscans. There’s ample parking near the start of the hike. If you’re interested in more than swimming, book a nature ramble through the tourist office.

    Sentierelsa description:

    Guided Sunday walks bookable through the Colle di Val d’Elsa tourist office
    Pro Loco Colle di Val d'Elsa.
    T: (+39) 0577 922791

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