The Upper Val d’Elsa River Park was established in 1997, given the scenic, historical and environmental value of this particular stretch of the river Elsa that flows through the town of Colle di Val d’Elsa, with the aim of protecting, maintaining and restoring its original, natural structure.

The protected area covers the course of the river through the town of Colle di Val d’Elsa, from Ponte di Santa Giulia, south of the town, as far as Ponte di Spugna, taking in also Le Caldane, a thermal spring used as far back as Etruscan and Roman times, and the Vene area.

To enhance the urban course of the river, a route complete with facilities was created, stretching for about 4 km along the banks of the river Elsa. It begins with the “Steccaia” and the “Callone Reale”, two works of hydraulic engineering used, since at least the 11th century, to channel the river waters into the ”gore”, a man-made network of canals that carry water into the town and which over the centuries provided low-cost power to mills, paper mills, ironworks and other small and large industries, facilitating the economic growth of the town almost right up to the present day. The route also takes in several characteristic points which up to a few decades ago acted as the “hill dwellers’ seaside”. Immediately after la “Steccaia”, we find the “Diborrato”, where the waters of the Elsa take a sharp drop to form a waterfall of about 15 metres flowing into a sort of small lake 10 metres deep. Further along the route are parts of the river locally known as the “Grotta dell’Orso” (bear’s cave), the “Conchina”, the “Masso Bianco”, the “Nicchia” and the “Spianata dei Falchi”.