History and nature in the Fucecchio Wetlands
History has its own path to follow – sometimes through a deserted swamp! Indeed, in the late 3rd century BC Hannibal led the Carthaginian troops through the Fucecchio Wetlands (or Padule di Fucecchio, in Italian) as he was crossing northern Tuscany, between Pistoia and Florence to fight the Romans in Arezzo, during the Second Punic War. He and his army faced the insalubrious and stagnant waters of the area, which extends some 2,000 hectares.
In his “History of Rome”, Livy wrote the general struggled for four days and three nights
Through deep and well-nigh bottomless quagmires left by the flood (
per praealtas fluvii ac profundas voragines), losing many men and all of the elephants. Hannibal even lost one eye due to an infection.
In more recent times, the Fucecchio Wetlands saw one of the most horrible civilian massacres in the Second World War when, on August 23rd 1944, German troops led by general Casermann killed 174 people, including many children.
On top of being a strategic military location, the Fucecchio Wetlands have always played an important role in fish farming. They have been the focus of various restoration projects.
Since 1996, they are a wonderful Natural Reserve, rich in vegetable species as well as migratory and sedentary animals.