Home » The Nature » The Territory

San Rossore Estate

With the first purchases from the Mensa Arcivescovile of Pisa, with requisitions and abuses of power, as often happened for several properties in Pisa, in 1400 the Medici family made her entrance to San Rossore.

In 1500 the territory was already organized in estate with the exploitation of forests and pastures: in the early 1600 San Rossore was then populated by 1100 head of cattle and several dozen of wild horses.

In 1622 Ferdinand II introduced dromedaries which proved to be suitable to the climate and were long used for transporting loads over sandy soil. In some maps of the time, an avenue is shown which led from Pisa to the sea crossing an area of ​​farms (near the current Cascine Vecchie) where the minister and some "salary-earners" stayed.

In 1700 the estate had reached its maximum extent, being about 4850 hectares wide with a perimeter of 20 miles (about 33 km); it bordered the river Serchio to the north and the Femminello and Doppio ditches; the ditches located halfway the meadows of Lamapiena and Campalto to the east (which formed a tooth along the main road of farms) and the boundary ditch that separated the lands of Barbaricina; to the south, the river Arno and to the west the shoreline. Under Peter Leopold the estate is subjected to an intense reorganization based on deforestation and hydraulic system interventions, by the execution of filling to increase pastures. The opening of a number of routes, including the alley between Cascine Vecchie and Cascine Nuove (1778) and the construction of new buildings represented that system on the basis of which, in 1800, Leopold II and the Savoy will organize the estate as it appears today. Despite the fillings executed at the end of 1700, many lands were totally in a swamp condition yet. The environment was characterized by moist depressions which followed each other in the woods in parallel with the sea, favouring the presence of abundant game. The main entrance to the estate was represented by the Viale delle Cascine, through which it was possible to reach Cascine Vecchie crossing the Ponte alle Trombe (so called in relation to the sound of trumpets that signaled the arrival of the Grand Duke or important guests in visit to the estate and for hunting). A secondary access was Via di Barbaricina that led directly to the area of ​​the Cascine Nuove. Following the interventions decided by the Grand Duke, the road system within the estate was represented by two roads running parallel to the sea, far about 3 kilometres from each other. Connected by a long path which cut across the property, and a number of smaller lanes, the farmhouses communicated with the main road.

When Tuscany fell under the French rule, the "Royal Possessions" suffered extensive damages and many animals of the estate, with the exception of camels, were used as a source of sustenance to feed the troops, or entrusted to the soldiers as mounts, or exploited as beasts of burden.

When the Lorraine came back to the government of Tuscany, the Cascine Vecchie were rebuilt and the royal villa of Gombo was built (1829-1830) where Gaetano Ceccherini later opened a bathing establishment. The estate acquired an aspect of representation and new straight avenues were opened which connected the centres for economic activities: the road that stretched between the bridge to the Sterpaia and the Ricciardi tower; the avenue leading to Palazzina and Bocca d'Arno leaving from Cascine Nuove, partially already outlined by the French; the way of Cateratte and the new layout of the Viale delle Cascine.

With the unification of Italy the ownership of the estate passed to the Savoy family, who restructured the property "in their own image" and built, in 1862, the establishment of the royal stables of the Sterpaia; they are also responsible for the reconstruction of the Cascine Nuove and the modernization of the complex of San Rossore in the Savoy style. By the will of Victor Emanuel II, the Vione of Prini was opened and, in 1864, some seacoast lands were ceded to Ceccherini who definitively abandoned the bathing establishment. At the time of reclamations, with a cut parallel to the Viale del Gombo, the Fiume Morto Nuovo was realized, which replaced the final stretch of the old Fiume Morto, no longer able to accept waste from the plain behind. The Cascine Vecchie are now in the Territorial Plan of Coordination, one of the centers of the Park and are accessible through the Viale delle Cascine.

Lodge Ponte alle Trombe, entrance of the San Rossore Estate
(foto di Archivio Parco)
Former Gombo's Royal Villa
(foto di Archivio Parco)