The Upper Val d’Elsa River Park protects the area along the urban stretch of river near Colle Val d’Elsa. In this territory, the small Elsa stream fills with water and begins to flow more violently: this is where, as the locals like to say, the Elsa starts to come alive.
The river has shaped enchanted corners over time, many immersed in the vegetation, and to admire them you can walk along the Sentierelsa, an equipped trail that, in about 4 kilometres, allows you to discover all kinds of trees and to quietly observe the birds and fish who live here undisturbed. The water is home to the Arno goby, common carp, marbled newt, green frog and agile frog; living amongst the leaves, coming down to drink their fill every once in a while, we find herons, little egrets and mallards, as well as wagtails and Eurasian wrens.
The trail begins in Gracciano and continues to the Spugna bridge, dotted along the way with smaller bridges, gangways, stairs and equipped passages, not to mention comfortable areas with tables and benches for relaxing. By walking, you can take in the history of Colle and the bond the community has with the river, even if only by observing the works of hydraulic engineering (like the historic millraces restored by Ferdinand I de’ Medici) that, bringing water to the city, were important for many activities, especially artisan workshops.
This trail thus not only introduces you to nature but also history, like the Caldane, ancient basins holding water with beneficial properties used in the Etruscan and Roman eras: these baths are the favoured destination of locals in the area, who come here for a bit of relief in the summer. Equally surprising is the Diborrato, a deep lake formed were the river transforms into a thunderous waterfall 15 metres high.