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The Pietraporciana reserve

A beech forest, that survived the last glacial period, can be found in the Pietraporciana reserve, located between the Val di Chiana and Val d’Orcia, at an altitude between 1,720 and 850 metres. Exposed to the north, protected and shaded by high limestone cliffs, rare shrubs grow on the forest floor such as deadly nightshade, staff vine, Cornelian cherry and spindle tree. There are lots of beetles to be found, such as the stag beetle and the rare longhorn beetle with its lovely blue markings. The abundance of insects and plentiful sources of food have created the ideal conditions for several species of woodpeckers including the great spotted woodpecker, green woodpecker and wryneck. The birds of prey include the European honey buzzard, short-toed eagle, sparrow hawk and hobby falcon. At night, you may spot barn owls and tawny owls. The common owl, horned owl, hoopoe and cuckoo can also be found here. There are extensive woodland areas of sessile and turkey oaks in the rest of the reserve, as well as maple trees and hornbeams with the forest floor that can be easily accessed and explored. Roe deer and fallow deer, pine martens, badgers, hedgehogs, squirrels and wild boar are among the wildlife that can be seen. The flowers include the martagon lily and red lily (protected) plus a variety of blooms: from snowdrops to the pinnate coralroot, Solomon’s seals to anemones, primroses to woodruff and from cyclamen to numerous types of helleborines.