The Balze cliffs in Volterra
They are part of an extensive hilly zone near to the urban centre of Volterra. This site and the large surrounding area have characteristically deep valleys and biancane (clay hills) that are farmed for crops and used for grazing.
Montenero Nature Reserve
On the hills of the Alta Valdera, between Volterra and S. Gimignano, this reserve stretches along the northern slopes of Mount Nero, which is for the most part inside the Montenero Nature Reserve or in the neighbouring area.
The steep slopes are covered with trees and the holophytic rocks, canyons and charming waterfalls which are the two characteristic elements of the area.
Berignone Nature Reserve
The Tatti-Berignone area, for the most part inside the Berignone Nature Reserve is of particular natural interest being essentially unspoiled with a remarkable biodiversity.
It is a large area almost completely made up of woodland, Mediterranean bush and streams that complete the natural landscape. Beside the geomorphological characteristics it is also important for the fauna. Forests are an ideal habitat for the nests of the birds of prey, while the scarce human disturbance favours the presence of mammals like skunks, badgers, wildcats and wolves, this latter favoured also by the present of the ungulates.
Monterufoli-Caselli Nature Reserve
Located in the middle of the Metalliferous Hills, partly inside the Monterufoli-Caselli Nature Reserve.
This locality is characterized by the presence of woodland and scrub, with a strong biodiversity and an unspoiled natural environment, crossed by a thick network of streams such as Sterza and Trossa. The area represents one of the most important sites of ‘Rete Natura 2000′ in Val di Cecina housing different habitats, rare flora and fauna. The numerous water courses, springs and small wet lands are an ideal environment for amphibious animals. Beside the presence of birds of prey and wolves, there also are a number of different species of birds.
The Pavone Valley
Pavone Valley and Rocca Sillana
Only partially in the Brignone Nature Reserve, this area includes most of the unreachable part of the Pavone Valley, an area of remarkable naturalist value, with an unspoilt natural environment and scarce human presence.
The Pavone riverbed is characterized by canyons and steep rubble covered slopes. In the differing holophytic underground is the characteristic local vegetation.
Beside the presence of birds of prey, in the surrounding woodlands, there are wolves favoured by the scarce presence of humans and the numerous ungulates.
Monterotondo and Sasso Pisano
Geothermal Energy Area
This small area, about 120 hectares, boasts the most extraordinary geothermal phenomena to be seen in Italy.
To fully appreciate the natural characteristics of this phenomena it is a must to visit Sasso Pisano where a large geothermal area is still visible: barren and wild landscape, an extraordinary natural environment compared to ‘Hell’ with fumaroles, putizze, lagoni (gurgling mud puddles) and small geysers.
This is the result of the magma near the surface that comes into contact with rocks and water. In the vicinity of the geothermal emissions, the transformation of the soil and rocks due to gases – carbon dioxide, methane, ammonia, boric acid and sulphur that gives that special smell to the thermal areas – can be easily detected.
Beside the biancane, with the colour of the transformed rocks, you can see puffs of hot vapour, fumaroles coming from cracks in the ground and small puddles of hot gurgling water, the lagoni.
An amazing flora and fauna.
Of great charm, especially during the spectacular period between the end of the summer and the beginning of autumn, the Calluna vulgaris (from the family of heathers) is the only one able to adapt itself to the acid soils (ph 3).
Beside the Calluna vulgaris, there is also the Agrostis canina subsp Montelucci, a grass characteristic of this area with a high concentration of carbon dioxide, and last but not least the Quercus suber (cork) that, being on the border of its natural environment, seems to prosper thanks to the heat of the soil and its strong acidity.