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Tombolo Estate

During the early Middle Ages, the lagoons, which up to the imperial age occupied a large part of this area, begin to reduce to wetlands due to silting caused by the rivers and the abandonment of hydraulic operations. This prompted the Republic of Pisa to use, for maritime traffics, a southern lagoon which was also more sheltered from the continuous advance of the beach: in this zone was probably located the ancient Port of Pisa. In the eighteenth-century maps this area is traceable in the Paduletta and in the pond of Tombolo, more rearward than the coastline.

In the fifteenth century there was the advance of the coastline (from the land to the sea) also in this area, which reduced the Port of Pisa to a swamp: once lost its function as an outpost of Pisa, the area will be ceded to the near and rising Livorno. Also in this area, up to the Arno and Livorno, settled the church property: contrary to other cases investigated, however, it kept these lands until the late nineteenth century.

The lands purchased by Lazzaro Apolloni near Bocca d'Arno formed, towards the end of the century, the estate of Arnovecchio. This was 360 hectares wide and formed a triangle bordered on the north by the Arno and, on the other sides, by the Estate of Tombolo (along the "lama" of Renino) and by the beach adjacent to the customs of Bocca d'Arno. The estate of Tombolo, the largest of those included within the boundaries of the park, extended for about 5230 hectares and bordered northward the estate of Arnovecchio and the Arno, eastward, along the Fosso dei Navicelli, the estate of Coltano and some properties of Corsini and Salviati - about 55 hectares included between the Via Livornese and the estate of Castagnolo - southward the Fossa Chiara and the Calambrone, which separated the estates, always ecclesiastical, of Tombolelli, Strufolo and Strufolello; westward it was delimited by the coastline. The perimeter of the property was about 20 miles. The presence of the church property in this area, a property that often assumed the typical characteristics of the "mortmain", both for a lack of interest in developing rich profits and for the impossibility to cope with demanding commitments, contributed not to trigger those reorganization mechanisms which, especially in the eighteenth century, characterized the other estates and properties in the area. When different managements of these lands will be involved, they will intervene, quite freely, on a practically intact land: this will provoke the development of initiatives, which, although partly countered, will make this area one of the most complex to be transformed into Park.

In the eighteenth century the territory of the estate was characterized by an alternation of raised, dryer, depressed areas and wetlands, where waters mixed with vegetation, creating environments populated by a rich and varied fauna. The woods and scrubs, which covered the entire estate S. Piero a Grado up to Calambrone, consisted of oak trees, oaks, pines, turkey oaks, tree heaths and myrtles, and the alternation with the marshy strips gave a picture of the slow advance of the lands on the sea. The "lame" stretched in parallel with the sea from southern ponds which covered almost the entire area close to Calambrone up to the marshy area outside the forest of Arnovecchio. Passing along the Via Livornese from Pisa, you came to the Ponte degli Angeli in the Estate of Tombolo and met the small town center of San Piero a Grado, consisting of an inn, a few houses with the use of ten hectares of "working lands", and the medieval church of San Piero, which still today represents one of the main monuments within the Park.

In the first half of the 19th century some interventions were made in the estate, such as the planting of pinewoods and the creation of some irregular-flow ditches (Lamone Lamalarga): such actions restricted the wetlands, but not radically altered the relationship between wetlands and forest. In a 1850 map we can see the area of Arnovecchio completely marshy; the "Lame" and the Galanchio are still present, a veritable lake located in the southern part of the estate. In 1869 the lands surrounding the fort of Bocca d'Arno were granted in concession to Ceccherini, evicted from San Rossore, who built a new bathing establishment in the area where, at the end of the century, ¬ following the design of the engineer Bernieri of the town of Pisa (based on some main roads leading to a semicircular square) - Marina di Pisa will develop.

Land reclamation of TomboloTowards the end of the century the comb of the straight paths leading to the sea was delineated as well as the straightening of the Via di Pineta, with the design that we can still see today. On the basis of these efforts, since 1920 the reclamation was organized, which drained much of the area. The drainage system was based on the installation of two drainage units in the lowest parts of Arnovecchio and Cornacchiaia, and on the opening of a number of canals, in particular the new Lamone and the new Lama Larga - manifolds connected with the drainage units, traced in a straight path - as well as on a series of articulators beside these streets, then collected by the main canals. It should be noted that, where the drainage is kept at its best, as in the case of Camp Derby or other areas characterized by the presence of the original swampy-wooded environment, the survival of the entire ecosystem is seriously jeopardized both by the overmuch presence of animals and, above all, by the limited stagnation of waters, which are drained too quickly.

After the reclamation, during which a large section of forest was cut down, the dried up lands were cultivated, especially those belonging to the southern area and Arnovecchio. Finally, with the creation of the institution Tirrenia, wanted by Buffaridi Guido and Ciano, the intensive and planned exploitation of the coast started, with the creation and development of Tirrenia and Calambrone.
Pine forest
(foto di Beldramme)