Orrido di Botri: a natural canyon just at little more than one hour drive from the Agriturismo I Pitti (80 km).

Orrido di Botri 1

An impressive limestone gorge rich with vegetation and rare animal species such as the royal eagle

This canyon in the Valle di Serchio is a paradise for nature lovers and those who adore the thrill of walking through a steep, rocky gorge. The Orridodi Botri near Bagni di Lucca is an impressive limestone gorge with steep walls carved out of the rock by the cold water of the RioPelago. The Orrido forms a very narrow valley created by water erosion. Movements of the earth’s tectonic forces also played a role in creating this dramatic gorge, as fractures and crevasses aided the flow of water in shaping the land. The canyon is quite unspoiled and so is also home to many rare and majestic animals such as the royal eagle and the wolf.

Orrido di Botri 2In order to protect and preserve the natural beauty of this site, the Orrido di Botri was awarded Nature Reserve status in 1971. The reserve covers an area of 286 hectares and is run by the Corpo Forestale dello Stato (the State Parks Protection Service). All visits to the Orrido begin at the Ponte a Gaio (Gaio Bridge) which is the only way into the reserve.

There is a visitor’s centre and ticket office there. The cost is 2 euro per person. Children up to 12 years free. The reserve is open from June through to September and all visitors must wear helmets.

Visitors enter the canyon itself by walking along the river bed partly over pebbles and boulders, partly over massive blocks of rock, often through the ice cold water of the river up to the knees to the area called Piscina (Pool) and lasts about 4 hours back and forth.

We also had this adventure one time with a five years old child, and we had a lot of fun.Orrido di Botri 3

We certainly recommend to wear comfortable and appropriate clothing and to take spare clothes in case of a slide into the water. Even the shoes must be appropriate. A pair of sport shoes that you can also soak in the water is ideal.

The route has been divided 4 distinct traits for which you can walk along only a part of it.

30 min. from Ponte a Gaio. The first narrowing of the torrent. It’s approximately 80 mt in length.
2. PRIGIONI 45 min. from Ponte a Gaio
Second narrowing of the torrent. A 500 mt walk in the water. The so called Solco Grande begins at the end of this area.
3. SALTO DEI BECCHI 80 min from Ponte a Gaio
A calcareous platform where you can find large intensive eroded stones. At this point the path becomes difficult and it is recommended only for expert hikers; ropes are provided in some tracks.                                                                                                                                       4. PISCINA 120 min from Ponte a Gaio
End of the authorized track. From here a very difficult mountain path begins for which a special authorization is needed.

How to get to the Reserve

Take the A11 motorway towards Pisa and exit at Capannori. Follow the signs to Bagni di Lucca and Garfagnana. At Fornoli, near Bagni di Lucca, take the provincial road n.56 towards Tereglio, following the directions for Ponte a Gaio – Orrido di Botri.

More info: http://www3.corpoforestale.it/flex/cm/pages/ServeBLOB.php/L/IT/IDPagina/432

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