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An Accessible Park

Since 2003, declared by the European Union "People with disability Year", the main aim of the Park has been to increase the fruition of its precious environmental heritage to make it accessible for handicapped. We are aware of the fact that the possibility to have a direct contact with nature through equipped educational paths represents a strong motivating force for the creativity and serenity of disabled. This is an offer system requiring a very high quality of services and a high level of attention toward the guest but which can offer important opportunities of development, with a seasonal adjustment of the market, in view of held down costs. For this purpose some projects started, some of which already realized and others still at the planning stage, in order to make the paths, the facilities and toilet facilities of the Park fit for this purpose.

With the passage of the Regional Law 11 April 1995, n.49 "Regulations about parks, wildlife reserves and conservation areas of local interest", which acknowledged the trends set out by the outline law regarding conservation areas, the Tuscany Regional Authority introduced a planning regarding the establishment, the management and the funding modalities of conservation areas. The first three-year planning privileged the presentation of system projects to share the interventions among different conservation areas managers, allowing, this way, the deepening of mutual knowledge and the creation of useful synergies, realizing concretely one of the main targets of conservation and management policy of the European Community: the promotion, the creation and the development of an ecologic net (Nature 2000).

The third regional Program for conservation areas has its main target in the strengthening of the overall regional system and of the provincial and inter-provincial sub-systems of conservation areas with reference to their integration in the European Net Nature 2000 and in the National Ecologic System.

The system of these conservation policies is considered as a system of knots (conservation areas) interconnected between each other and with other areas of naturalistic importance by ecologic corridors upon which there are buffer or transition zones forming an "environmental infrastructure" inside the territory.

The Tuscany Regional Authority for the European Year for Disability

The year 2003 has been declared by the European Union "Year of People with Disability". This fact has represented an opportunity for a deeper reflection about the disabled needs and for creating new accessibility proposals even for those places of particular naturalistic value, not always easy to be visited.
For this occasion, the Environmental Department of the Tuscany Regional Authority decided to privilege projects planning interventions to make the conservation areas accessible.
The subjects that got the regional funding are the Alpi Apuane Regional Park, the Migliarino San Rossore Massaciuccoli Regional Park, the Municipality of San Giuliano Terme and the Provincial Administrations of Arezzo, Firenze, Grosseto, Livorno, Pisa, Pistoia and Siena. For a short time, the Maremma Regional Park had finished the interventions for the overcoming of architectural barriers funded by the European Union inside a "Life" project.
The interventions regarded especially the realization or the adjustment of pathways to make conservation areas accessible. Other support structures have also been adjusted (museums, didactic centers, botanical gardens, etc.), popular materials, stages and formative situations have been arranged in order to involve handicapped in the planning and management of guided tours. Finally, a vade mecum for the project managers has been arranged.
This regional initiative has been important because it pointed out the necessity to realize suitable structures for everybody, even in delicate environments as conservation areas. It created, therefore, a new mind-set able to face the problems of a delicate territory as the one of conservation areas. The sensitivity of the manager subjects increased toward handicapped needs becoming a daily modality to face problems.

Support tools for the visit

The project aims at the realization of a computer system allowing a disabled to enter one or more pathways inside the park, maximizing the sensorial experience. In particular, it aims at the arrangement of palmtop and tablet computers equipped with GPS localization devices and at the realization of a multimedia interactive guide. According to the position and the kind of handicap, in some pathways of the park, the computer suggests different typologies contents (texts, videos, audios) in order to describe the places visited and compensate (as much as possible) for the characteristics of the user.
These tools can be useful to ride out some handicaps:

  • Hearing disability: through pictures of the pathway and writing of the explanations;
  • Sight disability: through a vocal guide connected with the indications the computer will receive by the incorporated GPS localization system;
  • Orientation disability: the GPS will allow people suffering from orientation problems to have clear landmarks, giving them a safe guide to locate the best way to find the place they are looking for (in the whole territory of the park);
  • The palmtop (or the tablet) will be provided with particular hooks in order to be connected with the wheelchair, so that hands are free to drive the wheelchair.

Adjustment and completion of the "Museum of the Marsh Ecology" at the Oasis LIPU of Massaciuccoli

As far as the management of the Reserve of Chiarone (located in the east side of the Lake of Massaciuccoli) is concerned, the Park Authority stipulated an agreement with LIPU. The relationship between the Park Authority and LIPU began in the 80s, when the environmental association decided to buy a farmhouse overlooking the small port of the hamlet giving its name to the lake. The Park realized the first walkway and two observatories to admire the birds crowding the Chiarone. The first formal agreement was initialed in 1990. Only with the second agreement, initialed in 1997, the management of the reserve (named by LIPU Oasis of Chiarone) started an activity bound to significantly bear on the territory.
The Agreement entrusts LIPU with the environmental management of the Reserve and the visit services management. The Visitor Center of the Reserve is located at the low ground of a farmhouse belonging to LIPU situated in the square in front of the small port of Massaciuccoli at the entrance of the Reserve, in which it is possible to enter through a walkways system reaching the observatories on the Lake and in the Marsh.
The intervention adjusted the Visitor Center providing it with the services and the necessary elements for the overcoming of architectural barriers and including another room in the "Museum of the marsh ecology", with modalities and techniques suitable for nursery and primary school children but also for people with physic, psychic or sensorial disability. Moreover, in order to make them clear for the visually handicapped, some panels have been realized also with point system.

Popular material
In order to promote the resources existing in the conservation areas, popular activities are forecast: paper guides, audio guides, posters, meetings, specific web pages, etc. These activities aim at the discovery of these resources peculiarities through the use of the five senses in order to help integration among people with different skills and make people know the accessibility level of the territory.


The choice of the Tuscany Regional Authority to privilege the system projects allowed the creation of synergies among the different conservation areas managing subjects, with an overall benefit for the conservation of nature which cannot restrict itself to only one localized territory. The main benefit has been the one to bear on the way the subjects operating in the different structures behave, giving wide ambitions.
Even the choice of 2003 to aim at projects for the overcoming of architectural barriers introduced new operating modalities and ways to face reality.
The Migliarino San Rossore Massaciuccoli Park Authority involved itself in the outlines indicated by the Tuscany Regional Authority, taking advantages in the way of operating and perceiving its territory and its role. This kind of openness led also to other results, such as the European Diploma of Protected Areas, the introduction of the park territory among the Unesco Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) and the role played inside the programme agreement for the development planning of the Pisa-Livorno coastal area.

Projects realized

Fratino path
(foto di PR Migliarino San Rossore Massaciuccoli)
Pathway Sabrina Bulleri
(foto di Del Freo)
Walkway Fiume Morto
(foto di Angelo Catania)
Fratino path
(foto di PR Migliarino San Rossore Massaciuccoli)
Fratino path
(foto di PR Migliarino San Rossore Massaciuccoli)