With an area of 4800 hectares, the San Rossore Estate is the heart of the regional park, not only in terms of its location but also on account of the wealth of its habitats and charm of its landscapes. It is bounded to the north by the River Serchio, to the south by the River Arno, and to the west by the Ligurian Sea.
The estate is owned by Tuscany Region and managed by the Park Authority. It is a vast area formed over the millennia by the mud and detritus deposited by the Arno and Serchio rivers. Its formation created a landscape of dunes separated by low-lying areas known as ‘lame’ (swamps) and has favoured the development of an extremely diversified environment, with meadows, wet woods, pinewoods and marshy areas only a few dozen yards apart.
There is an overpopulation of wild boars which prevents the woods from regenerating, thus causing an ‘innatural’ visibility in the undergrowth. The wet marshy areas of the estate cover an area of some 550 hectares representing a breeding ground for many animal species and an obligatory point of passage for all birds following the migratory route that extends along the Tuscan coast.
In the 16th century the Medici family chose the area as a hunting reserve and rented the whole property. In 1789 the Lorraine succeeded to Medici and transformed the paths into the wide avenues that still trace the layout of the estate (Viale del Gombo, Via delle Cascine with the entrance known as ‘Ponte alle Trombe’) and the mouth of the Arno. In 1829 Leopold I inaugurated the horse racecourse on the “Prato degli Escoli”.
The racetrack stimulated the building of stables in the nearby borough of Barbaricina. After the unification of Italy, the Savoy king took over the management of San Rossore until the estate passed to the President of the Republic, thus regaining its former function as an official residence.
The estate is open all the year round. Guided tours are organized for a fee at the Visitors’ Centre for groups.
There is no bus connection from the railway station. For groups of up to 30 people transport by fun train (booking required at the Visitors Center).